Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected claims he has “blood on his hands” over Malcolm Turnbull’s demise after colleagues accused his Liberal supporters of signing the petition to spill the leadership.
Liberal frontbenchers backed the claim on Tuesday night after it was revived in a new two-part documentary Bad Blood that screened on Sky News.
It examines claims of Machiavellian double dealing by Mr Morrison’s supporters in the days leading up to Mr Turnbull resigning as leader.
Asked how he really got the leadership, the PM insists he remained loyal “all the way” to Mr Turnbull.
“I talked to my colleagues. They were very aware of the position I had taken all the way up until that point and the support I provided,” Mr Morrison said.
In this exclusive two-part documentary, Sky News reveals for the first time what really happened when Malcolm Turnbull lost the top job.#BadBlood premieres Tuesday 8pm on @Foxtel. First look: https://t.co/kFlYiwKGkf pic.twitter.com/Qd7xaDGura
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) June 24, 2019
There were two leadership ballots in Mr Turnbull’s final week as Liberal leader.
It was only after he spilled the leadership and then faced a petition for a second ballot that Mr Morrison emerged as a candidate.
“It was really then, well, who was in the best position to take us forward,” Mr Morrison said.
But other participants questioned this account.
Former Liberal MP Craig Laundy told Sky News that it was clear that Mr Morrison started counting the numbers before Mr Turnbull stood down, when a petition was circulated for a second spill.
“I wouldn’t mind betting, 43 signatures and the length of the delay in the time it took to get those actually ended up being time that Scott needed to muster the numbers,” Mr Laundy said
Asked if Mr Morrison’s supporters signed the petition for a second spill, Mr Laundy said: “I would suspect so. Put it this way, it was them.”
LISTEN | The @SkyNewsAust documentary 'Bad Blood New Blood' will explore the leadership spill that dumped @TurnbullMalcolm for @ScottMorrisonMP @BenFordham asks @David_Speers about Scott Morrison's roll in the spill. pic.twitter.com/sz7REuZsrg
— Ben Fordham Show (@SydneyLive2GB) June 25, 2019
This account was confirmed by a Liberal MP last night after watching Bad Blood, which noted the petition was signed by one of Mr Morrison’s closest colleagues, WA Liberal Ben Morton.
Mr Morton travelled with Mr Morrison during the election campaign and was recently promoted.
“Scott was three steps ahead of everyone for a long time,” the unnamed MP said.
NSW Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said the numbers didn’t lie.
“Five of clearly the Morrison camp voted for the spill … and then those votes obviously went back,” she said.
“That’s as I read the numbers and numbers always tell their own story.”
Mr Laundy also said the Liberals deserted Mr Turnbull on the night he stood down from the leadership.
“The thing I witnessed first hand, the sad part, the untold part of this story, is that the minute Malcolm Turnbull made that decision, everyone left him,” Mr Laundy said.
“I made a decision to make sure he was OK. It was sad.”
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton also raised claims in the documentary that a desperate Mr Turnbull offered to give him Julie Bishop’s job of deputy Liberal leader.
Mr Turnbull denied the claims and the only witness, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, refuses to say which man was telling the truth, insisting it was a private conversation.