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Dumped minister breaks silence

Employment Minister Eric Abetz
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Dumped cabinet minister Eric Abetz has urged Liberal supporters to support the Turnbull Government amid concerns over “hundreds of resignations” from the party.

The former employment minister and leader of the house in the Senate — who lost both roles under new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull — emailed supporters on Wednesday, saying members “owed allegiance” to party beliefs despite the change in leadership.

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Senator Abetz reported “hundreds of resignations from the Liberal Party” following the leadership spill two weeks ago.

“It is disappointing to hear of a spate of resignations from the Liberal Party and of threats not to renew memberships over the recent federal leadership change in the Liberal Party,” he said.

“The Liberal Party has always been bigger than the person who holds the position of federal leader of the parliamentary party from time to time.”

Senator Abetz noted his own removal from the ministry, stating that he understood the core constituency felt disenfranchised, but would continue his work “albeit from the backbench”.

Senator Abetz has indicated that he intends to contest the next election to continue serving as a senator for Tasmania and has asked supporters for donations to help his campaign.

His email comes one day after former prime minister Tony Abbott’s extensive interview on commercial radio, where he too urged voters to stand by the party.

Mr Abbott told 2GB’s Ray Hadley he wanted his demise to mark the end of the revolving door of prime ministers.

“My hope is what happened a fortnight ago finishes all of this stuff, that we get right away from this concept of changing the leader like you might change your clothes to suit the fashion,” Mr Abbott said.

“Our country is better than that.”

Mr Abbott said it would be terrible if voters abandoned the Coalition because of the leadership change.

“I can appreciate that there are a lot of people out there who are dismayed by what’s happened, but as I said, it would be even worse if we were to end up with a sixth prime minister in six years,” he said.

“Even if they have to do it through gritted teeth, support the Coalition, support the Prime Minister, support the Government.”