'He wouldn't be grateful if we did': Liberals hit out at Malcolm Turnbull's demands to explain the coup
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'He wouldn't be grateful if we did': Liberals hit out at Malcolm Turnbull's demands to explain the coup

Malcolm Turnbull was removed as prime minister partly because his own tactics backfired and because MPs felt they would fare better at the looming election with a different leader, Liberal MP Craig Kelly has said.

Responding to Mr Turnbull's solo appearance on the ABC's Q&A program, in which the former prime minister demanded cabinet ministers who backed the coup explain their actions, Mr Kelly said Mr Turnbull was partly to blame for his own demise.

"The answer is simple, when he took over from Tony Abbott, he set himself a KPI of 30 Newspoll losses, he had those and more," Mr Kelly told the ABC's Stan Grant.

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull appears on a special Q&A.

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull appears on a special Q&A.Credit:ABC

"We were getting close to six months of the next election, and many of my colleagues, especially those colleagues in Queensland, thought that we would stand a better chance at this coming election with a change of prime minister," he said, citing the LNP's disastrous performance in the Longman byelection.

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Mr Turnbull cited internal party polling and said the government was performing at its best since the 2016 election and stood a comfortable chance of winning again in 2019.

But Mr Kelly said that if Mr Turnbull had not called on a surprise leadership ballot on the Tuesday he would most likely still be leader.

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Another MP behind the leadership change said Mr Turnbull should be careful what he wishes for in demanding the reasons for his removal be aired. "He wouldn't be grateful if we did," the MP told Fairfax Media.

Mr Turnbull was asked if his own actions, in launching a coup against Tony Abbott in 2015 meant his removal was just and fair. The former prime minister said that when he had challenged Mr Abbott he had laid out his reasons for doing so.

But former Liberal MP Bob Baldwin said Mr Turnbull's demise was authored long before 2015.

"It all started with Malcolm in 2007," he wrote on Twitter.

"He needs to accept that he is the master of his own destiny. He went to undermine Nelson, then Abbott. It’s actually not about him, it’s about the people and the party," he added.

Latika Bourke is a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age based in London. She has previously worked for Fairfax Media, the ABC and 2UE in Canberra. Latika won the Walkley Award for Young Australian Journalist of the Year in 2010.