Australia

Turnbull names coup plotters that ousted him from leadership

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Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says he did not anticipate his colleagues would pursue such "self-destructive" action.

More than two months after he was brought down as prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull says those responsible still need to explain why they took such "self-destructive" action. 

He said it was still painful to talk about.

"Particularly when you don't have the answers," Mr Turnbull told ABC's Q&A program. 

"Will it be an issue (during a federal election)? Will it be the biggest issue? Will it be a big issue or a medium-sized issue? I don't know.

"But I think Australians are entitled to know the answer."

Mr Turnbull said he takes Scott Morrison at his word that he had no involvement in the plot to bring him down as prime minister.

But he did not hold back in naming the leaders of the "insurgency" that topped him: Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Health Minister Greg Hunt, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, and former prime minister Tony Abbott 

The ousted PM said it appeared Mr Morrison had taken advantage of a situation he did not create in order to become leader of the country.

Malcolm Turnbull met with Indonesia President Joko Widodo in Bali
Malcolm Turnbull met with Indonesia President Joko Widodo in Bali.
AAP

"I take Scott at his word. The insurgency was led by Peter Dutton, was obviously strongly supported by Tony Abbott and others," Mr Turnbull said.

"That is how he's presented the circumstances himself and I'm not in a position to contradict that or question that."

Mr Turnbull said he had deliberately tried to limit his public statements since Mr Morrison replaced him. 

"I wanted to give Scott all the clear air to do his own thing. He has dealt himself a very tough hand of cards, and now he has to play them. But he's the prime minister, and he has to get on with it."

He also confirmed reports he spoke to billionaire Kerry Stokes, who relayed a conversation he had with media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

"According to Kerry, Rupert said, 'Oh, well, three years of Labor wouldn't be so bad.' I can't work that out. I can't explain that," he said.

Wentworth lost in last week

Asked why he had not given the Liberal Party's candidate Dave Sharma more support in the Wentworth by-election, Mr Turnbull said his presence would have been unhelpful. 

"It also, frankly, would not have been very helpful for me maintaining my own peace of mind, after an event like this - it's very important to look after yourself and your family."

Turnbull said believed the Liberals lost the election to independent Kerryn Phelps in the last week.

"You're saying Morrison government's killed itself off in Wentworth?" host Tony Jones asked him. 

"You may very well say that, but I couldn't possibly comment," Turnbull replied. 

The Coalition no longer has a majority in the lower house after Mr Sharma's loss.

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