Mark Coulton urges Liberal party to ‘fix this so we can get on with the job’

The Nationals, including Mark Coulton (middle row, third from left), looked dejected on the floor of Parliament on Thursday. Photo: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN
The Nationals, including Mark Coulton (middle row, third from left), looked dejected on the floor of Parliament on Thursday. Photo: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

Parkes MP Mark Coulton has spoken out against the leadership turmoil gripping the federal Liberal party and the conservative MPs behind it.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull narrowly won a leadership ballot on Tuesday and could face another on Friday after former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton publicly challenged him.

Mr Coulton levelled criticism at the conservatives who had pressured the Prime Minister over his National Energy Guarantee.

That included former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and Andrew Hastie, who all reserved their right to cross the floor over the policy.

“I’m very frustrated because the catalyst for this was the energy policy,” Mr Coulton said.

“I actually think we had, for the first time in my eight year tenure, an energy policy that took into consideration the cost of energy for consumers plus the reliability factor.

“Malcolm Turnbull did negotiate and move quite a bit on that and when he got to a point, they shifted the goal post.”

Mr Turnbull has challenged Mr Dutton to prove he has the support of a majority of the Liberal party room, and will resign if a spill motion is carried in a meeting on Friday.

If that transpires, it is expected that Treasurer Scott Morrison – and possibly Deputy Leader Julie Bishop – would stand against Mr Dutton.

But Mr Coulton said all was not lost.

He said the government could still hold on to power until the next election, and even win.

“The government is going ahead,” he said.

“My hope is that, if there is a change of leader, we continue until the next possible time for an election which is next year. I’m reasonably confident that that will happen.

“I thought, after Christmas, we were in a very good position to win an election. I think we still can b. I don’t think the Australian people want a Shorten-led government, but I think the Liberals need to fix this so we can get on with the job.”

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