Malcolm Turnbull Says What He Really Thinks In Fiery Press Conference
No topic was too controversial for the PM as he commented on Dutton's eligibility, bullies in parliament and far-right politics.
Well, what a dramatic day it has been.
Peter Dutton called for a second party room meeting, a bunch of senior minsters told Turnbull he's lost the confidence of the party and then Scott Morrison looked likely to contest the leadership against Dutton and he probably will.
All the while everyone's wondering where Malcolm Turnbull was?
Would he resign or call another party room meeting? Will he contest the leadership or step aside?
Well, we got those answers and more in a press conference where Australians got a glimpse of the strong, dignified and fiery leader they've always wanted.
"These are momentous times and it's important that people are accountable for what they're doing," Turnbull said on Thursday during a press conference.
He went on to the address the issue of Dutton's eligibility, far-right politics and his own future in parliament.
On Peter Dutton's Eligibility
In an exclusive report by Ten's own Hugh Riminton it was revealed that Dutton's business interests could warrant his disqualification from parliament. The issues extend from Dutton's interests in two Brisbane childcare centers which are for-profit businesses owned by the RHT Family trust.
Dutton's parliamentary register states that he is a 'beneficiary' of the RHT Family Trust. Section 44(v) of the constitution however states they any person with “direct or indirect pecuniary interest with the Public Service of the Commonwealth” is disqualified from Parliament.
So what if Turnbull's main challenger was disqualified from parliament? Well Malcolm isn't silly.
Turnbull said that he had sought advice from the Solicitor-General on the eligibility of Dutton to sit in the Parliament and he really wanted everyone to know how significant it is that Dutton -- who is now a contender for the position of PM -- might not be legally allowed to sit in the house.
"We expect that advice to be available first thing in the morning," Turnbull said.
"This is a very, very significant point ... I cannot underline too much how important it is that anyone who seeks to be Prime Minister of Australia is eligible to be a member of parliament because a minister, let alone a Prime Minister, who is not eligible to sit in the House is not capable of validly being a minister or exercising any of the powers of a minister. So you can understood how important ... this issue is.
"That may, you know, impact on his decision to run or not."
But just to be absolutely sure that everyone understood just how important the issue of Dutton possibility not being eligible to sit in parliament, Turnbull circled back on the issue later in the press conference.
"In the case of Mr Dutton, I think he'll have to establish that he is eligible to sit in the Parliament. I mean, again, I don't want to -- you know -- elaborate on this anymore than I need to, but this issue of eligibility is critically important," Turnbull said.
"You can imagine the consequences of having a Prime Minister whose actions and decisions are questionable because of the issue of eligibility. Are they ... validly a minister at all? "
I mean ... could you imagine?
On Tony Abbott
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott wasn't directly mentioned in Turnbull's remarks -- but everyone could read between the lines.
The pair's disagreements since Turnbull took office have been widespread and public. Most recently, Tony Abbott was in a group of backbench MPs that threatened to cross the floor to vote against the Turnbull's National Energy Guarantee (NEG) Bill.
When explaining his intentions for his future as part of the Liberal party he confirmed that he would take the request for a second spill motion as a vote of no confidence and that he would not contest the leadership.
Would he stay in parliament after losing the top job?
"No, I made it very clear that I believe former Prime Ministers are best out of the Parliament and I don't think there's much evidence to suggest that that conclusion is correct. It's not correct," Turnbull said.
Turnbull commented very briefly on the in-fighting between the left-leaning and right-leaning members within the Liberal party. He labelled the behaviour distracting and claimed it was against the fundamental principles of the party.
"You have got to judge the political actions by their outcomes. I think what we're witnessing - what we have witnessed at the moment is a very deliberate effort to pull the Liberal Party further to the right," Turnbull said.
"There has been internal insurrection, you know, of the kind -- well the kind we have seen in its extreme form in the course of the last week or so when there have been distractions, our numbers go down. The public hate what is going on at the moment. They want everyone here to be focused on them."
Turnbull also announced a party room meeting will likely be called at 12 pm on Friday to resolve the leadership debacle. In the meantime, Turnbull said he is waiting on a document with the 43 signatures required to shift him from leadership.