Nationals MPs accuse Prime Minister Turnbull of weak leadership

Two National party MPs have accused Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of being a weak leader.

Victorian MP Andrew Broad said the Prime Minister had shown “a clear failure of leadership” by ignoring the concerns of conservative MPs as the marriage bill was debated in the senate.

Broad told the ABC’s AM program that he believed the Prime Minister should not have allowed Senator Dean Smith to publicly release his marriage bill, and should have instead brokered a deal between the Liberal MPs who wanted marriage equality and conservative MPs who were opposed to it.

Broad said he had suggested the Prime Minister put all the MPs in a room to hammer out their differences, but Turnbull had not followed his advice.

“I had a private conversation with the Prime Minister where I said, ‘Have you sat down and got Trevor Evans, Warren Entsch, Dean Smith — people on the Yes side — and put them in the room with Eric Abetz, Andrew Hastie and people on the No side? And come up with a piece of legislation that is Coalition legislation?'” Broad said this morning.

Broad said it was disappointing that the senate had rushed through the marriage legislation and rejected the amendments that would have given greater rights for people of faith. The MP said he doubted that the religious protections would be added when the bill is debated in the House of Representatives.

“It’s kind of a done deal, because if they did get up they’d go back to the Senate and get knocked over,” he said.

“And so this is where a lack of leadership from the Coalition, the executive of the Coalition and the Prime Minister, has let down many Australians.”

Queensland MP George Christensen has also voiced his disappointment in the Prime Minister’s leadership, taking to social media to show his support for Broad’s statements.

“I concur with my Nationals colleague Andrew Broad,” Mr Christensen wrote. “A true leader would have sought to capture the will of the people and protect freedoms, not this hands-off approach.”

The Prime Minister commented on the statements this morning denying internal divisions were boiling within the coalition.

This afternoon Liberal Senator Eric Abetz was asked if he believed Malcolm Turnbull was the best person to be Prime Minister. The Tasmanian senator told Sky News that he was unaware of any challenges to the Prime Minister’s position, but would not comment on whether he believed there were better candidates.

“Malcolm Turnbull is the elected leader of the Liberal party, therefore he is the Prime Minister, and I know of no moves against him.” Abetz said.

Abetz said questions about who would be a better Prime Minister were hypothetical.

“These are hypotheticals, I know of no moves so therefore its not exercising my mind, and as I’ve said many times to questions like this, I joined the Liberal party because of the principles not because who was the leader at the time.”

Senator Abetz said the Nationals had a long history of being “a ginger group” within the coalition.

“I say the term ‘ginger group’ as something that helps keeps us on our toes, I think it is a positive part of the coalition.” Abetz said.

“We have a wide array of individuals within our coalition and this contest of ideas is a good thing, and lets ee how things play out. At the moment the government is lagging in the polls, there’s no doubt about that, and we do need to improve our performance.”

Abetz said the National party members who were expressing concern about the Prime Minister’s leadership were “in one mind” with himself and everyone else in the coalition in focusing on making sure that Australia did not end up with a Labor government.

OIP Staff

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