Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says his predecessor Tony Abbott was given “ample warning” before he was ousted from the top office last year.
Mr Turnbull won a party room ballot in September, seven months after Mr Abbott survived a previous vote to open up the top leadership positions.
He said on Friday that he did not regret ousting the former leader, citing the February spill as sufficient warning.
“There was a spill moved in February of last year, so there is no doubt that he had very ample warning that there were concerns in the party room,” he told Radio 2SM.
“He had very ample warning.”
Mr Turnbull also defended his recent polling, which saw the Coalition fall behind Labor earlier this month.
The April 5 Newspoll saw the Coalition trail 49-51 on the two-party preferred standing, based on 2013 federal election reference flows.
Mr Turnbull — who cited poor polling as part of his reasoning for challenging Mr Abbott — said that polling was always close in the lead up to an election.
“Every politician pays a lot of attention to opinion polls and they are very influential in people’s thinking,” he said.
“But I do believe it’s important to remember that all federal elections are close.”
Budget will be ‘fair and prudent’
Mr Turnbull also conceded the government faced a tight race in the upcoming federal election.
He made the comments about Opposition leader Bill Shorten while highlighting the issue of truck drivers as an election issue.
“Shorten is definitely the alternative prime minister,” he said.
“Labor could win the election and if they did, if enough people vote for Labor, those independent truck drivers will be out of work again.”
The government last week succeeded in abolishing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which faced opposition from some drivers after it ordered new minimum pay rates for owner-operators.
Mr Turnbull also pledged the upcoming federal budget would be “fair” for Australians.
“People will look at that budget and they’ll say this is a fair budget, but it will also be one that encourages enterprise and people to have a go, and to invest.
“This is what you’ll see in the budget, frankly, you will see a budget that is prudent, that demonstrates that we are going to live within our means, because that’s what every sensible, practical person sees to do.”