Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has denied engineering a coup against Malcolm Turnbull, revealing he has never spoken to the former prime minister since he was knifed from the top job in August.
The Senate leader, who is known for his loyalty and trusted by his Coalition colleagues, revealed the depth of the deep freeze between Mr Turnbull and the plotters.
However, he denied plotting to remove Mr Turnbull as Prime Minister.
“That was a difficult week. I certainly did not engineer any coup,” he told Sky News on Friday morning.
“I voted for Malcolm on that Tuesday … but it was clear given the result that day that his position had become irretrievable and that it was in the interests of the country, the government, and the Liberal Party for the issue of the leadership of the Liberal Party to be resolved with more certainty before we left that week,” he said.
His response follows Mr Turnbull’s explosive appearance on the ABC’s Q&A on Thursday night.
During the August coup, Senator Cormann held a press conference to announce the Prime Minister’s position was untenable and he should call a ballot predicting Peter Dutton had the numbers to become prime minister.
The conservatives over-estimated his support, clearing the way for Scott Morrison to seize the leadership after it was declared vacant.
Mr Turnbull also said on Thursday night that Liberal polling confirmed he was on track to win the next election before the coup.
“I haven’t seen any such polling,” Senator Cormann said.
“There’s no question in my mind the government had worked very well as a team and we were getting into a more competitive position than we had been.
“I have not seen that polling … before or after,” he said.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne supported Mr Turnbull’s claim that the plotters has to be held accountable.
“They have to be responsible for their actions. They made a decision about not supporting Malcolm and they have to be responsible for that,” Mr Pyne told the Nine Network on Friday.
“I did speak to Malcolm afterwards and I think he did a great job … he’s a friend of mine. I asked him how it went. We texted each other and he’s entitled to have his views about things.”