Macfarlane defends decision to back Turnbull

Mr Macfarlane was one of 14 Liberal frontbenchers to back incoming Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, according to reports.
Mr Macfarlane was one of 14 Liberal frontbenchers to back incoming Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, according to reports. Bev Lacey

UPDATE: GROOM MP Ian Macfarlane has declared his support for incoming prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was fuelled by his ability to communicate the government's message clearly.

The Science and Industry Minister has shrugged off speculation his support for Mr Turnbull was caused by speculation he would be scrapped in a planned ministry reshuffle.

He described yesterday's leadership spill as a "very difficult day" for the long-serving senior minister.

"I support Malcolm Turnbull because I think we need to do better in communicating with people," Mr Macfarlane told ABC radio this morning.

"I think we have done a good job as government but generally, people haven't understood what it is we've been doing as a government.

"I've served with Tony in Cabinet longer than any other Liberal minister and it was a very difficult decision but unfortunately it was a decision about making sure we did what was best for Australia, and so it was a very difficult day for me."

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Mr Macfarlane refuted claims he was set to be dumped from the front bench and that the speculation of the ministry reshuffle did not contribute to his support for Mr Turnbull.

"Those stories are simply not true and they're set out to destabilise the people who were doing the work for the government and in the end, destabilise the government," he said.

"I didn't take any heed of the article. I was confident of the job I was doing."

Mr Macfarlane's support for Mr Turnbull is a reversal of his stance eight months ago when Mr Abbott survived a leadership challenge in February.

He said the February challenge was too soon, and had campaigned to stop the spill happening.

"We went through then a very difficult period over the following six months and there are a number of issues that weren't able to be dealt with in the way the people could understand what we were trying to do," he said.

"We learnt to manage most of the issues between the Prime Minister's office and my office.

"The breakdown in discipline, though, the attacks on sitting ministers who were doing a good job by ministers and backbenchers of the Coalition was an absolutely disgraceful occurrence.

"There seemed to be no ability to rein that in."

Mr Macfarlane said he hoped his long relationship with Mr Turnbull would continue.

"Malcolm and I have been very close for a long time and going right back to when he was leader of the Opp so I'd be hopeful that that relationship would continue and I'll serve in whatever portfolio he asks me to serve in," he said.


9AM: GROOM MP Ian Macfarlane has emerged as an instrumental political player that helped topple Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the shock Liberal Party leadership spill last night.

Mr Macfarlane was one of 14 Liberal frontbenchers to back incoming Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, according to reports in The Australian.

It follows reports last week Science and Industry Minister Mr Macfarlane's position in the government was on shaky ground with his name included in a shortlist of senior ministers to lose control of their portfolios in a ministry reshuffle by Mr Abbott.

Mr Abbott denied any plans for the reshuffle.

Reports this morning are speculating on the future of some senior ministers, including Mr Macfarlane, as Mr Turnbull re-orders his ministry.

Mr Macfarlane is yet to respond to calls from The Chronicle.

Wright MP Scott Buchholz, whose electorate includes the Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim regions, made the announcement before a throng of reporters at Parliament House last night.

Details of how the Government Whip voted in the leadership ballot are yet to be known.

In what could be an indication, Mr Buchholz retweeted a tweet from a Laidley voter which said the local area did not support Mr Turnbull as prime minister, and the electorate endorsed Mr Abbott as party leader, and prime minister.

The Chronicle is attempting to contact Mr Buchholz for comment.

Topics:  leadership challenge libspill malcolm turnbull prime minister tony abbott

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