Will we have a new PM by next week?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s woes are worsening, with one Coalition MP saying he will back a spill of the leadership.

Queensland backbencher Warren Entsch said he would seek a resolution to the issue at the next partyroom meeting, which takes place next week before Parliament resumes.

Mr Entsch said he strongly supported Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to replace him, though Mr Turnbull has not declared himself a contender.

Another Coalition backbencher, Dennis Jensen, has also called for change, saying he told Mr Abbott he no longer supported his leadership.

However, other colleagues on both the backbench and in Cabinet have backed Mr Abbott and called for party unity.

Warren Entsch says he would support a leadership spill and backs Malcolm Turnbull to take over from Tony Abbott.

The statements by Mr Entsch and Dr Jensen show momentum is building for a possible move against Mr Abbott, who has been battling increasing speculation that his leadership is terminal.

Dr Jensen said Mr Abbott had been aware of his position for more than a week.

“I told the Prime Minister that on January 23,” he told the ABC.

“I texted him, and this was prior to the Prince Philip [knighthood] debacle, I texted him and told him that he no longer enjoyed my support.”

“In my view the more quickly you do this, the better,” he said.

Bill Shorten writes: “Australian family are sick and tired of cuts to childcare.”

Dr Jensen said he was no longer behind Mr Abbott because the Coalition was “not governing as we should be”.

“There is no strategic direction, the policy is not consistent and coherent,” Dr Jensen said.

He said Mr Abbott was an “outstanding” opposition leader and “probably the best that Australia’s ever had, but he hasn’t made the transition to prime minister”.

“He is not focused on policy. He is not focused on strategic direction. He is focused more on tactics and tactical policy,” Dr Jensen said.

Brough does not give Abbott unequivocal support

Liberal backbencher Mal Brough, who reports suggested could have been a leadership circuit-breaker, said he “has no intention of challenging the Prime Minister”.

He did not, however, offer Mr Abbott his unequivocal support.

“I listened to the [National Press Club] speech yesterday … there were a couple of things at least that weren’t covered and for that reason… he does not have that unequivocal support. It’s a critical support,” he said.

“Critical of some of the things that we are doing wrong and I’m doing that on behalf of the public, and one of them is this [GP] co-payment,” adding he also objected to changes in pay for Defence Force personnel.

Julia Gillard has taken a stab at the Prime Minister for knighting Prince Phillip.

But Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said there had been unanimous support for Mr Abbott in Cabinet.


“I think that’s a strong message, not only to the backbench but to the public as well and I think it’s very important to point out that there is, I think, a general mood among backbenchers that people don’t want to go back to the chaotic period that presided when Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and then Kevin Rudd again occupied the office of PM,” he told the ABC’s 7.30 program.

“I think at the moment if people are going out to sabotage this PM, then it really has all of the hallmarks of the worst period presided over by Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd and I don’t think that’s in our best interests.

“I don’t think it’s in the country’s best interest and I think frankly at the moment the PM should be given the opportunity to demonstrate what he enunciated in his speech at the Press Club, that he has a very strong plan for the country.”

Clear other people support call for Abbott to go, says Jensen

Dr Jensen said he did not know how many other Liberal MPs would support his call for Mr Abbott to go, but said “it’s clear that there are people that are supportive of that though”.

He said he had not decided who he would back to take over but indicated to the ABC he might support Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Dr Jensen said Mr Abbott has been aware of his position for more than a week.

Dr Jensen said he disagreed with the statement the Prime Minister made at the National Press Club on Monday that it should be the people, not the Coalition party room, who “hire and … fire” prime ministers.

“The constitution’s quite clear that the people do not elect the prime minister,” Dr Jensen said.

“We don’t have a presidential system.

“The constitution says that where a group can be formed in whatever way they form it, that can have control and carriage of the House of Representatives, can form government and the leader is selected from there.

“It’s not that the people choose the prime minister.”

Removing Tony Abbott as Prime Minister will do more harm than good.

Dr Jensen said he intended to have discussions with Ms Bishop, Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison about his views on the leadership.

He said he was aware his comments would fuel further controversy but said he had always “been prepared to do whatever is necessary to change things for what I view to be, in absolutely, in the national interest”.

He said many constituents had told him “Tony Abbott has to go”.

“That is universal, that’s my party members, that is my constituents. I’m getting people that are normally absolutely rusted on, they have voted Liberal all their lives, and they are saying they will vote informal next time,” he said.

“They can’t bring themselves to vote Labor or anything else but they’ll vote informal.”

A version of this article originally appeared on ABC News here and has been republished with full permission.

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