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No news on Liberals as Turnbull leaves

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January 15, 2019 by admin

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has reportedly left Parliament House after a tense meeting with possible challenger Joe Hockey, asking press to leave himself and wife Lucy alone.

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Turnbull’s wife drove him from the premises in their grey BMW, amid furious speculation by senior political journlaists on Twitter over whether or not he would be coming back as head of the coalition.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey left the private meeting shortly before the embattled leader, who despite a ferocious mutiny in his ranks had appeared relaxed and smiling over the weekend.

Earlier, Liberal powerbroker Nick Minchin and senior Liberals Christopher Pyne, Ian Macfarlane and Eric Abetz were in discussions with Turnbull morning ahead of tomorrow’s Liberal leadership showdown.

Tony Abbott, the only declared challenger, says he is not overly confident of his chances in a leadership ballot on Tuesday, frontrunner Joe Hockey has yet to make up his mind, while Kevin Andrews won’t rule out another tilt at the top job.

Mr Turnbull is facing a second leadership spill in less than a week, as the Senate continues debating Labor’s carbon pollution reduction scheme.

Mr Abbott arrived at Parliament House on Monday saying he was not “over-confident” he had the numbers.

“I’m still talking patiently and carefully to all of my colleagues,” he told reporters.

Mitch Fifield, one of more than a dozen Liberal MPs to resign from the frontbench or other senior positions last week, said the Liberals had already moved on from Mr Turnbull.

“On Tuesday we will have a new leader of the party,” he said, while backing Mr Hockey as the replacement.

An opinion poll, published on Monday, shows the opposition’s treasury spokesman has the edge over Mr Turnbull with voters.

At least two Liberals, chief climate change negotiator Ian Macfarlane and senator Gary Humphries, declared they were in Mr Turnbull’s corner.

And former opposition leader John Hewson, rolled as party leader in 1994, said the moves against Mr Turnbull were both a tragedy and gross disloyalty.

He also warned Mr Hockey that he risked ending his political career “early” if he accepted the leadership.

But Howard government foreign minister Alexander Downer said he thought Mr Hockey would be a good choice.

“He was a very good minister and handled some difficult issues. He’s a charming guy as you can see just from watching him on television, a very entertaining and amusing person, a very decent person,” Mr Downer told Fairfax Radio.

“I think if he does become the leader he would be a very interesting choice.”

Meanwhile, the Senate has begun what could be a marathon sitting as it considers more than 200 amendments to Labor’s legislation.

Rebel coalition senators will attempt to refer the legislation to a Senate committee, delaying any final vote until February.

A new Nielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers gives gives Mr Hockey a four percentage point lead over Mr Turnbull — 36 per cent to 32 per cent, with former frontbencher Tony Abbott on 20 per

cent.

The poll was taken on Friday and Saturday as the Coalition faced huge divisions over emissions trading, and is the fifth consecutive Nielsen poll in which Mr Hockey is the preferred Coalition leader.

Meanwhile, the latest Newspoll in The Australian newspaper shows Mr Turnbull’s preferred prime minister rating has fallen a massive eight percentage points in the past fortnight to a record low of 14 per cent.

The figure compares with Kevin Rudd’s preferred prime minister rating of 65 per cent.

Mr Hockey got 33 per cent of the vote when those surveyed were asked who was the best person to lead the Liberals, while Mr Turnbull got 30 per cent, followed by Tony Abbott on 19 per cent.


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