A bombshell documentary has shed extraordinary light on the Liberal Party’s tumultuous leadership spill which ultimately ended Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership.
Mr Turnbull’s stint in Parliament came to an explosive end last August following two spills in a 48-hour period that eventually saw 43 Liberals turn their backs on the standing prime minister.
Nearly a year since his dramatic departure, members of Turnbull’s cabinet have spoken out on the coup in Sky News documentary Bad Blood/New Blood, which premiered on Tuesday.
An explosive documentary has shed light on the Liberal party’s tumultuous leadership spill that ultimately saw Malcolm Turnbull ousted as prime minister
After speculation he had lost the confidence of multiple cabinet ministers, Mr Turnbull called a leadership spill, beating sole challenger Mr Dutton 48-35.
A second leadership ballot occurred days later after Mr Dutton was able to get a majority of Liberal MPs to sign a petition calling for a challenge.
Mr Turnbull’s problems compounded when senior ministers Mitch Fifield, Mathias Cormann and Michealia Cash announced that week they had withdrawn their backing.
But it was Mr Cormann’s signing of the petition that sealed Mr Turnbull’s fate, Turnbull ally Craig Laundy has claimed.
‘Our problem was we’d banked Mathias’s support. And that ended up being the piece of the puzzle that brought the whole tent down,’ Laundy told Sky News.
Turnbull’s closest ally Craig Laundy says Mathias Cormann’s (pictured in with the former prime minister in Canberra in 2016) signing of the petition that sealed Mr Turnbull’s fate
‘It was devastating and turned out to be the mortal wound.’
Mr Turnbull had demanded Mr Dutton secure 43 signatures proving the majority of members supported the shake up before he could agree to call a party room meeting.
Mr Cormann would eventually jump ship, sign the petition and hand in his resignation, a move Laundy said sent a ‘powerful message.’
Mr Cormann, however, has maintained the move was not out of disloyalty claiming he addressed it with Mr Turnbull.
‘When I formed the view that he no longer enjoyed majority support in the party room and I formed the view that he no longer enjoyed my support, I told him directly, personally in a one-on-one conversation and I offered my resignation,’ he told Sky News.
The Minister for Finance had also been accused of suggesting Mr Dutton take the deputy prime minister position after the spill – which he has since denied.
Mr Dutton claimed the former PM approached him following the partyroom meeting last August and urged him to stay on as Home Affairs Minister.
‘I said, ”Malcolm, that position is untenable and I can’t accept that”,’ Mr Dutton said.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arrives with Liberal MP’s, Arthur Sinodinos (left) and Craig Laundy (right), for the Liberal Party room meeting at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, August 24, 2018
He then claimed Turnbull offered him then Deputy Leader Julie Bishop’s position – which he also shot down.
‘It’s all pretty high-stakes discussions and a desire to see the best possible outcome, so in my mind an easy transition is always the best but … he offered me the deputy leader position,’ he added.
‘I said to him, given what had just taken place, that wasn’t credible and it wasn’t his to gift either.’
Mr Turnbull’s office has since denied the claims, saying he was in no position to offer the job to Mr Dutton without support from the Coalition.
He also claimed he would not have asked Julie Bishop to give up her job as his deputy.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann was the only other person in the room when the conversation took place and refused to weigh in on whether such an offer was made.
After refusing to call a second spill, Mr Turnbull demanded Home Affairs Peter Dutton secure 43 signatures proving the majority of members supported the shake up
‘I’m not going to go into private conversations in private meetings,’ he told Sky News.
Meanwhile, Mr Turnbull’s successor Scott Morrison credited conversations with Liberal colleagues for his rise to the top job.
‘I talked to my colleagues, they were very aware of the position that I’d taken all the way up until that point and the support I’d provided,’ Mr Morrison said in the documentary.
‘It was then about, well who was in the best position to take us forward.
‘The country had just been through a very traumatic experience and they were looking for someone to just take hold of this and tell them it would be OK.’
But Mr Morrison maintains he had been confident Mr Turnbull could have won the 2019 election in which he himself went on to claim victory.
‘That was certainly my view.’