‘We cannot continue with Tony as leader’

Written By komlim puldel on Selasa, 03 Februari 2015 | 20.01

Appearing on the 7:30 Report, Dr Dennis Jensen said that he does not supprort Tony Abbott to remain as preferred Prime Minister. Courtesy: ABC

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been told he no longer has the support of backbencher Dennis Jensen. Picture: AAP Source: AAP

TONY Abbott has been told directly by Liberal backbencher Dennis Jensen that he no longer has his support to lead the party.

Dr Jensen told the Prime Minister he wanted him removed from the nation's top job on January 23 via text message.

Dr Jensen is the first MP to display such brazen dismay in Mr Abbott's leadership.

Dr Jensen texted Mr Abbott and the pair had a "lengthy" exchange about why he should be removed.

Speaking out ... Liberal backbencher Dr Dennis Jensen has publicly broken ranks to say he no longer supports Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. Source: News Corp Australia

Mr Abbott asked Dr Jensen: "Well who would be better to lead the party?", to which he replied it was not about the "who" but the "what".

Dr Jensen told News Corp Australia: "I told him that he no longer has my support."

The disgruntled MP also said Mr Abbott didn't have the right vision for the nation, particularly on politics.

"We can't continue with Mr Abbott as leader," he said.

Dr Jensen is from the WA electorate of Tangney. He was involved in calling the first of the Liberal spills in 2009 with Wilson Tuckey that ultimately saw Mr Abbott installed as the party's leader.

Speaking on 7.30 tonight, Dr Jensen said he informed Mr Abbott on January 23 — three days before the disastrous Australia Day knighting of Prince Phillip — that he no longer supported the Prime Minister.

Deposed ... Dr Jensen was instrumental in the 2009 Liberal Party leadership spill, which saw Malcolm Turnbull replaced with Tony Abbott. Picture: Adam Taylor Source: News Corp Australia

"I always believe in being upfront and honest," he said.

Dr Jensen said that while Mr Abbott was an "absolutely fantastic" Opposition leader, he was still "operating on that wartime footing."

"He was a great wartime leader, [but] now we need a great peacetime leader."

Despite being instrumental in installing Mr Abbott as Opposition leader in 2009- and now being the first backbencher to publicly speak out against him — Dr Jensen said he did not want to be seen as "just a hitman".

"I don't want to be seen as the person who in effect is just pulling the trigger ... I think I'm certainly expediting the discussion that we need to have."

When asked if Mr Abbott could still save himself, Mr Jensen replied: "I don't believe so".

"I don't think fundamentally he understands what the problem is, and therein lies the problem," he said.

Not just a hitman ... Federal Liberal MP Dennis Jensen said he wants to be known for more than just "pulling the trigger" in leadership spills. Picture: News Limited Source: News Limited

But Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton quickly came to the Prime Minister's defence, saying Mr Abbott needed to be given an "opportunity to exercise what he said".

"He's made mistakes, we've all made mistakes, and we're listening to colleagues, and, most importantly, to Australians," Mr Dutton said in an interview following Dr Jensen's, also on ABC's 7.30.

"He's made it very clear he's not going to stand down ... I want the prime minister elected only 16 months ago to have a fair go."

Mr Dutton said the Cabinet was unanimously in support of Mr Abbott, and that without a challenger, there was no point.

"He's made it very clear he's not going to stand down — why would he, if he's 16 months into his first term?"

"When there is no challenger, to me that [a leadership spill] makes no sense," he said.

According to other ABC reports, Warren Entsch will be looking to get the leadership issue resolved at their partyroom meeting next Tuesday, and he's a strong supporter of Malcolm Turnbull.

Resolution ... Federal MP Warren Entsch, a supporter of Malcolm Turnbull, reportedly said he wants to resolve the leadership issue at the next partyroom meeting. Picture: Wesley Monts Source: Supplied

It is estimated that as many as 30 MPs want Mr Abbott gone, according Fairfax reports.

The news comes after cabinet ministers have privately been lamenting that the relationship between Tony Abbott and his deputy Julie Bishop is now "untenable" as leadership speculation continues to swirl in Canberra.

But Ms Bishop has remained firm that she would not challenge the Prime Minister, telling Sky News that she was not counting her numbers.

"I'm not ringing the backbench for support, I'm not counting numbers," she said.

"I will not challenge the leader."

Speaking on Sky News, Mal Brough has put his support behind Tony Abbott, sighting tough challenges causing cracks in the Liberal leadership.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison also publicly denied mounting a challenge against the Prime Minister, despite being touted as a possible leadership candidate.

Speaking on 7.30 yesterday, Mr Morrison said Tony Abbott could count on his support.

"The prime minister has my support and I've outlined that in any number of ways," Mr Morrison said.

Not challenging ... Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, has ruled out challenging Mr Abbott for the prime ministership. Picture: Getty Images Source: Getty Images

MPs today continued to leak against the Prime Minister despite a staunch defence of his leadership to the National Press Club in Canberra on Monday.

"Cabinet ministers have been ringing me and telling me things are just untenable," one MP said.

"Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott now have a Gillard-Rudd like relationship. It can't go on like this," another said.

Meanwhile, disgruntled Queensland MP Mal Brough has not ruled out potentially bringing forward a motion of no confidence in Tony Abbott in the party room if he is still Prime Minister when Parliament resumes next week.

Loyal MP ... Scott Morrison has also pledged his commitment to the Prime Minister. Source: News Corp Australia

Mr Brough told Sky News he had no intention to challenge Mr Abbott for the leadership, but had concerns about issues affecting the government, including the GP co-payment and the cuts to the wages of the defence force.

He said he would be having more discussions with Mr Abbott about these issues, but did not say a leadership spill was the way the party should go.

One of the possible options being discussed by MPs unhappy with Mr Abbott's leadership is that Mr Brough will act as scapegoat to bring the leadership issue to a head.


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