Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull denies Tony Abbott leading an 'insurgency' against his leadership.

By political reporter Susan McDonald

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he has a “cordial” relationship with Tony Abbott and has rejected suggestions of discontent within conservative ranks of the party.

Mr Turnbull revealed during an interview with 7.30’s Leigh Sales he has had contact beyond text messages with the man he deposed in September.

“I have had a good chat with Tony,” he said.

“Tony and I have obviously had some differences at different times but we’ve known each other for a very long time and we have been and always will be able to have a very cordial discussion,” Mr Turnbull said.

malcolm turnbull 7.30
(Image via ABC)

Mr Turnbull laughed off a question about whether Mr Abbott was leading an “insurgency” against him, replying “of course not”.

The Prime Minister has faced a campaign from some backbenchers led by Mr Abbott to expand Australia’s military commitment in the Middle East fighting Islamic State terrorists.


Former defence minister Kevin Andrews earlier this week called for ground troops in Syria.

But Mr Turnbull said he would not interpret Mr Andrews’ remarks as challenging his authority.

“People are entitled to express the view that there should be a large Western military force, boots on the ground, they’re entitled to express that view but that’s an opinion,” Mr Turnbull said.

The Prime Minister then swiftly rejected the idea again.

“It is not for Australians to commit the armed forces of the United States to combat,” he said.

Senior Liberal senators cross the floor

Two prominent conservative Liberal senators today crossed the floor to condemn the compulsory university student services fee.

Senators Cory Bernardi and Eric Abetz defied the Government’s stance to vote in favour of the motion that originated from the crossbench.

The senators argue they were reflecting the Liberal Party’s long-standing position to support voluntary student unionism.

The Prime Minister cited the party’s freedom to cross the floor when asked if he had full control over the right wing of the party.

“There is a long tradition in the Liberal Party of people, backbenchers of course, being able to cross the floor and that’s always happened,” he said.

“When I was a backbencher I crossed the floor on one memorable occasion.”

That was when Mr Turnbull supported Labor’s carbon pollution reduction scheme.

Mr Turnbull now derides Labor’s policy to bring it back and supports the Coalition’s direct action plan which is how it will meet its emissions reduction targets.

The Prime Minister is attending the Paris climate change talks next week and has expressed optimism about achieving a global agreement.

This post originally appeared on ABC Online.

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