News National Turnbull doesn’t hold back on blasting coup ministers for ‘blowing up government’
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Turnbull doesn’t hold back on blasting coup ministers for ‘blowing up government’

Former prime mInister Malcolm Turnbull sets the record straight on Thursday night. Photo: Q&A/ABC TV
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Malcolm Turnbull has dumped on his cabinet colleagues for “blowing up the government” in a take-no-prisoners appearance on the ABC’s Q&A program.

In his first major post-coup interview, he also dished the dirt on media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who he insisted had said “Malcolm’s got to go”.

Laying the blame for the coup with the cabinet ministers who deserted him, it took just 10 seconds before he named names – pointing the finger at Peter Dutton, Mathias Cormann, Mitch Fifield, Michaelia Cash, Greg Hunt, Steve Ciobo, Michael Keenan, Angus Taylor and former prime minister Tony Abbott. 

Mr Turnbull also handled questions about Nauru, the US midterm results and the treatment of women in politics. Photo: Q&A/ABC TV

Challenge to the plotters to explain 

Mr Turnbull challenged the plotters – including Finance Minister Cormann – to explain the leadership challenge, laying the blame for any future election loss on their heads. 

“They have to answer that question. I can’t answer it. From my own point of view, I described it at the time as madness,” the former prime minister said.

“They have to explain why they did it and none of them have.”

Liberal polling had him on track to win the next election 

Mr Turnbull claimed the party room knew about internal polling suggesting the Turnbull government could win the next election and was ahead in key marginals. 

“In our own poll we were 52-48 ahead,” he said. “So there’s no question the government was doing well. We were thoroughly competitive. And we were in a position where we had every chance, every prospect, of being able to win the election.”

Despite his attacks on former colleagues, Mr Turnbull insisted he was not “miserable, bitter or resentful”.

“I’m joyful that I had the opportunity to take on that role and do as much as I did in the time that I had,” he said, noting that same-sex marriage legislation was one of his major reforms.

Rise of the Independents 

Mr Turnbull said it was significant that female independents had now taken three of the seats previously regarded as the safest Liberal seats in the nation. 

“There are three really safe – formerly really safe – Liberal seats: Mayo in South Australia, Indi in Victoria, Wentworth now in New South Wales – my old seat. All in very different areas but, forever, have been safe, conservative seats, safe Liberal seats,” he said.

“They are now occupied by three Independents who are all women, who are all small-L liberals, and all of whom, in one way or another, have been involved in the Liberal Party in the past.

“So what that’s telling you is that the voters are – through voting for these Independents – saying, ‘we are concerned that the Liberal Party is not speaking for small-L liberal values, for genuinely liberal values, and therefore we take the matter in our own hands and we put in a liberal Independent’.” 

Wentworth by-election 

Mr Turnbull explained his absence during campaigning for his former seat of Wentworth, saying his involvement would not have been “helpful”.

“My judgement was that given the circumstances, were I to be campaigning in or be particularly visible in any way in the Wentworth by-election, it would be unhelpful to David Sharma’s prospects,” he said.

“It also, frankly, would not have been very helpful for me maintaining my own  peace of mind, after an event like [the leadership spill].

“It’s very important to look after yourself and your family, and it was good and timely for us to step aside and step back at that time.” 

Mr Turnbull said Mr Sharma would have won the election – albeit with a reduced majority – had it been held on the 13th of October rather than the 20th.

“I believe the by-election was lost in the last week. It was a pretty messy week for the government, with announcements and, you know, the vote on the ‘It’s OK To Be White’ Pauline Hanson resolution in the Senate,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier on Thursday he would be travelling 35,000 feet in the air during the ABC’s broadcast.

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