How Josh Frydenberg refused to challenge unpopular Scott Morrison because he was loyal to the PM after the pair LIVED together during lockdown
Ousted Treasurer Josh Frydenberg could have challenged Scott Morrison for control of the Liberal Party months before the government’s embarrassing capitulation at the federal election.
Moderates within the party approached the 50-year-old in September when the two were living together at The Lodge.
Senator Andrew Bragg, along with a handful of others, held secret backroom meetings amid disastrous internal polling before eventually pleading with Mr Frydenberg to launch a leadership coup.
The man many had tipped to take over as leader immediately shut down any plans for a spill.
Plotters feared his time bunked-up with the PM during Covid lockdown blinded him to the reality that Mr Morrison was becoming toxic among voters.
Ousted Treasurer Josh Frydenberg could have challenged Scott Morrison (pictured together on budget night 2020) for control of the Liberal Party months before the government’s embarrassing capitulation at the federal election
‘As a matter of course, colleagues always consider ongoing electoral viability,’ Mr Bragg admitted to The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
Jason Falinski, who also lost his seat to a teal independent, confirmed ‘a change of leader had been canvassed’ but added ‘there were no serious discussions about replacing the prime minister.’
To those who knew the Treasurer, it was no surprise. He had voted against leadership challenges from Malcolm Turnbull against Tony Abbott in 2015 and also shut down Peter Dutton’s spill against Mr Turnbull in 2018.
‘He is loyal to a fault with leaders,’ a senior party insider said.
The pair became roommates in August so they could continue to work closely together when the Omicron crisis triggered lockdowns throughout the country.
But internal polling at that time started to spell disaster for the Coalition – long before the environmentally-conscious wave of teal independence was on the rise.
Monique Ryan, the pediatric neurologist who snatched Mr Frydenberg’s seat which he held since 2010, only announced her candidacy in December.
Calling an election at the end of last year could likely have saved the Coalition from the bloodbath at the polls which has seen them lose 20 seats with more votes still to count.
Mr Frydenberg’s safe Liberal seat was not under threat when he was asked to take a tilt at the leadership, but by the new year warning bells started ringing.