Senator Arthur Sinodinos said on Q&A he would not rule out Tony Abbott returning to the leadership of the Liberal Party and becoming prime minister again.
When asked by host Tony Jones if he could see the party going back to Mr Abbott, Senator Sinodinos, who backed the spill motion against Tony Abbott that saw Malcolm Turnbull ascend to the leadership, said he supported Turnbull because “I think he can take the Coalition forward in a stronger, better direction”.
“Will we ever go back to Tony? In politics I’ve learnt through bitter experience you never rule anything in or out,” Senator Sinodinos said.
“But my view is that the party is moving on and the younger generation of members coming through, including conservative members, are looking at their own careers and their own future and how we make the Liberal Party narrative more contemporary.
“You never rule anything out in this business. If I had to put money on it, I wouldn’t put money on it for the reasons I mentioned before.
“But I’m always careful in these things because in life I’ve learnt in politics it’s the thing you least expect that can come back.”
Panel member, historian Robert Manne, said the narrow result in this year’s election gave great power to the conservative part of the Liberal Party, but he did not think Mr Abbott could be prime minister again after what he did in his first term.
However, he said Mr Abbott was actively working to destabilise Mr Turnbull.
“I think he made such a fool of himself when he was PM. Everyone will remember Prince Philip being knighted and so on.
“And Kevin Rudd didn’t. I think he was, again in secret he was acting in a chaotic way, but no-one apart from people inside knew about that.
“What [Abbott] can’t stop himself from trying to undermine the PM and he will seize on gun control and on this and that, and what’s interesting is I know Kevin Rudd was doing it but he kept it pretty much under wraps. I mean, he did it with me and I had no influence at all.
“But Tony is just doing it openly.”