Backbenchers confirm spill motion to depose Tony Abbott

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has vowed not to repeat the “chaos” of Labor’s leadership drama despite a leadership spill flagged for Tuesday.
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“The first point tomake is that they are perfectly entitled to call for this, butthe next point to make is thatthey are asking the partyroomto vote out the people that theelectorate voted in,” Mr Abbott said.

“I want to makethis very simple point. We arenot the Labor Party … and we arenot going to repeat the chaosand the instability of theLabor years.”

Mr Abbott said he and deputy leader Julie Bishop would urge the party room to defeat the motion and “vote in favour of the stability and the team that the people voted for at the election”.

“We have a strongplan. It’s the strong planthat I enunciated at the Press Club this week and we aredetermined to get on with it,and we will,” he said.

Mr Abbott addressed the media for less than a minute afterWestern Australian backbenchers Luke Simpkins and Don Randall announced they will move a leadership spill on Tuesday.

The MPs saidTony Abbott’s decision to knight Prince Philip was the “final proof” of the government’s disconnection with voters.

Mr Simpkins emailed colleagues on Friday to say he had been inundated by voters with concerns about the direction of the government.

Luke Simpkins.

“The last time this outpouring of concern happened was when we were being led to support the Rudd government’s ETS [emissions trading scheme] and faced with this erosion of our base support we acted,” he said.

“I think that we must bring this to a head and test the support of the leadership of the party room.

“I have therefore submitted to the chief government whip a motion to spill the leadership positions of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party.”

The motion, whichthreatens to end Tony Abbott’s tenure as Prime Minister but no other leadership candidate, has declared their hand.

Don Randall

Leadership speculation has been building since Mr Abbott’s infamous Australia Day honour, with his decision to knight Prince Philip widely ridiculed. The party’s disastrous performance in the Queensland state election on the weekend put further pressure on the Prime Minister.

Two backbenchers supporting Mr Abbott expressed dismay at the call for a spill.

“This is a motion for a spill, it’s not a spill,” said Liberal MP Angus Taylor.

“My view is the majority of MPs won’t support a spill for the simple reason that history has shown agains and again that a messy spill, while seductive isn’t effective.

“The wise heads of the party understand that, unfortunately there are some who don’t.”

Tasmanian Andrew Nikolic tweeted his reaction.

Disappointing repetition of worst excesses of Labor Govt, which Australia rejected in 2013. We need stability & unity of purpose. #auspol

— Andrew Nikolic (@andrewnikolic) February 6, 2015

The call for a spill of all positionsalso means deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop’s position will also be up for grabs.

Dissidents attempting to overthrow the Prime Minister are working for Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to be reinstated as leader, Julie Bishop retained as deputy and Joe Hockey dumped for Scott Morrison as Treasurer.

The Foreign Minister’s office declined to comment as Ms Bishop held a media conference earlier in the day.

Earlier on Friday, Ms Bishoppassed up an opportunity to try and quell backbench unrest, saying those pushing for a spill to topple Mr Abbott as Prime Minister will do as they see fit.

Ms Bishop, who a week ago was considered a leadership contender, is now shoring up her own position as deputy.

When asked if she would advise her colleagues against launching an attempt to dislodge Mr Abbott,Ms Bishop declined.

Comment is being sought from Mr Turnbull.

In a statement, Chief Government Whip Philip Ruddock said Mr Abbott had agreed to have the spill motion “listed for discussion” on Tuesday.

Mr Ruddock said the motion by Mr Simpkins and seconded by Mr Randall proposes that “the Liberal Party room resolve, via secret ballot, that the senior positions of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party be declared vacant”.

In his email to colleagues, Mr Simpkins said “this gives you all an opportunity to either endorse the Prime Minister or to seek a new direction”.

“As I have said in the past, I have no front bench ambitions. I just want to make sure that the economic vandals do not get back into power and our children and grandchildren are not left to pay Labor’s bill,” he wrote.

“I do this because I believe it is in the best interests of the people of our country.”

“No, I don’t have any advice for my colleagues because they are elected members of Parliament and they will take whatever action they see fit,” she said.

“My message to the backbench is focus on teamwork, focus on what we can achieve as a united cohesive team.”

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