Former Prime Minister of Australia John Howard has said that he has not detected any desire from within the Liberal party for a change in leadership. He has told MP’s in the Coalition to “bury their differences” and to instead unite behind the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull.
Mr Howard admitted that it seemed many in the Liberal party were concerned about the future but gave a warning saying that the party would be “very unhappy” if they continued to focus on internal affairs rather than on the “many policy failures” of Labor.
Speaking in a TV interview, Mr Howard said that he didn’t “find any evidence” that people within the Liberal party greatly desired a change in leadership. He said that the party had “done that” and despite their efforts there will still be an “electoral challenge”.
Mr Howard said that he did not think the next election was “unwinnable” for the Coalition. Despite this, he said that the party would need to “work together” in a much more meaningful way than it had before.
MP’s in the Coalition are preparing for what will been an awkward week as Labor is expected to win its 30th Newspoll in a row. This standard was established when Turnbull had ousted Tony Abbott from the position of Prime Minister in 2015.
While there are not many obvious contenders for leadership at the moment, several Coalition MP’s have quietly expressed their dissatisfaction with Turnbull’s leadership while pushing their own portfolios’.
A leading conservative and Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton has recently admitted that he thinks Australia is going to have a “Shorten-led government” despite confirming his support for Mr Turnbull.
In his blunt address, Mr Howard said to Liberals that they had a responsibility to collectively “get the act together”. He told Liberal MP’s that they had the “hope and aspirations of millions” with them and they wanted the party to put their petty squabbles aside.
Mr Howard had led the Liberal Party for 12 years in a row until 2007 but admitted that the world of politics was now “vastly different”, mentioning the rise of social media. He said that Australia was going through a “very different political phase” and that social media “invites people to comment a lot more than they did”.