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