Australia

Dutton not keen to one day be leader

Matthias Cormann (L) won't clarify if the Liberals deputy leadership was offered to Peter Dutton(R). (AAP)

Not wishing to reveal private conversations, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann will not clarify whether Malcolm Turnbull tried to make Peter Dutton his deputy.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has refused to weigh in on whether Malcolm Turnbull offered Peter Dutton the deputy leadership of the Liberal Party as his own leadership as prime minister was unravelling.

After speculation he had lost the confidence of multiple cabinet ministers, Mr Turnbull called a leadership spill on a Tuesday morning in August, beating sole challenger Mr Dutton 48-35.

Mr Dutton says the deputy offer followed that spill.

"I said to him, given what had just taken place, that wasn't credible. It wasn't his to gift either," Mr Dutton said.

Mr Turnbull denies offering up the role, which was held by then foreign minister Julie Bishop.

Senator Cormann was the only other person in the room at the time but says he doesn't want to break confidences by confirming who was right.

"I'm not going to go into private conversations in private meetings," Senator Cormann told Sky News in a documentary on Mr Turnbull's toppling aired on Tuesday evening.

While he's keeping quiet on the issue, Senator Cormann has opened up about the difficulty of dropping his support for Mr Turnbull after the first leadership spill, alongside upper house colleagues Mitch Fifield and Michaelia Cash.

"None of this is easy. To be honest if I could have gotten somebody else to do it, I would have quite happily let somebody else do it."

Former NSW coalition MP Craig Laundy believes the loss of Senator Cormann's support made a big contribution towards Mr Turnbull's demise.

"When someone of that stature goes, it sends a very powerful message and it's one that's hard to combat," Mr Laundy said.

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 didn't fight for his role but instead chose to quit parliament, leaving Mr Dutton, Ms Bishop and Scott Morrison to fight it out for the leadership.

Mr Morrison believes conversations with colleagues helped get him over the line.

"They were very aware of the position that I'd taken all the way up until that point and the support I'd provided," he said.

"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."

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