Malcolm Turnbull insists Tony Abbott is the best person to be prime minister.
That’s because he has the confidence of the party room.
“To be the leader of a political party you only need one attribute and that is to have the confidence of the party room,” he told ABC TV.
Mr Turnbull has been billed as the likely challenger in any spill of the Liberal leadership.
But he hasn’t thrown his hat in the ring or even hinted that he covets the top job.
Mr Turnbull said the 102 Liberals in the party room were the ones who decided who led their party.
“You can have all the attributes in the world, perceived, real, unreal, imagined – the only attribute that matters is … whether the majority of the party room support you,” he said.
Clearly, Mr Abbott had that support as no one challenged him.
Asked if he had the ticker to challenge Mr Abbott, he replied: “My ticker is in very good shape.”
The communications minister said all Liberals were committed to giving Australia sound, responsible, good government.
“We support Tony Abbott as our leader. He has the support of the party room. Yes, there was a spill motion, but it was not carried and we are all behind the leader, every single one of us,” he said.
On the contentious issue of gay marriage, Mr Turnbull said there was really little difference between his position and Mr Abbott – as they both supported a conscience vote, even though he supported same-sex marriage and the prime minister opposed it.
“If a private member’s bill comes up, I’ve got no doubt the party room will decide there will be a free vote,” he said.
“The idea that there’s this massive gulf between us is quite imaginary and it’s been put around by people, frankly, who I suspect don’t bare either Tony or me a lot of good will.