Senator George Brandis says he voted for Malcolm Turnbull as new Prime Minister as he felt the party’s chances of re-election were becoming “irretrievable”.
Mr Turnbull was propelled to the leadership of the Liberal Party and prime ministership in a secret ballot on Monday evening, beating out Tony Abbott 54 votes to 44.
Senator Brandis formerly united with Mr Abbott to decry Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs earlier this year, with Mr Abbott referring to his colleague at the time as a “a stalwart defender of free speech”.
Of the former PM, Senator Brandis said, in time, the public would appreciate the legacy of the Abbott-led government.
“With the passage of time people will see that Tony Abbott led a Government that made the right decisions but sometimes struggled to explain the reasons for those decisions,” he said on ABC’s 7.30 program.
“My judgment is that Mr Turnbull brings to the leadership a boundless confidence and optimism, a reputation as a highly competent and savvy business person who’s made a successful transition to politics.
“I think he captured the mood really well this morning when he said that now has never been a better time for Australia to seize the day and to seize the future.”
In the lead-up to the vote, Senator Brandis said he felt Mr Abbott’s leadership was leading the Government in an “irretrievable” direction and “that we were at real risk of losing next year’s election to Bill Shorten”.
Earlier in the day, former Prime Minister John Howard described Mr Turnbull as “highly intelligent” and economically eloquent, while also praising the efforts of Mr Abbott.
He blamed the frenzied polling cycle for the turmoil within his former party.
“I’m not into blaming the media… but I do think we are living in a more super-charged, frenetic top-of-the-head environment – it is different,” he said.