Going alone: Page MP protests against leadership struggle
THE Page electorate's representative in Federal Parliament Kevin Hogan, has vowed to go it alone if the Liberal Party goes ahead with a spill motion later today.
Mr Hogan, the deputy speaker in the House of Representatives, began one of the most tumultuous days in Australian political history confirming reports he planned to sit on the crossbench if the Liberal Party proceeded with a spill motion to unseat Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
He described the move as a protest and a matter of principle rather than a tactical move to influence decisions in the Liberal Party Room.
"My decision to move to the crossbench is not about Dutton or Turnbull, it is a matter of principle," he said.
"Earlier this week, in the Nationals party room, we were discussing how to help farmers, the drought and emergency services workers, while the Liberals were talking about leadership changes.
"I know I represent and speak for the vast majority in the community who view the Labor and Liberals' treatment of the office of the Prime Minister as a revolving door and this has to stop, because it is overshadowing the work of running the country."
By the early afternoon, after the government moved to adjourn parliament until September 10, the Prime Minister called a media conference that almost assured Mr Hogan would be a crossbencher in two weeks.
The PM called on his pursuers to provide a letter signed by a majority of MPs opposed to his leadership.
On receipt of this document he would call a Liberal party room meeting and declare all positions vacant. He said he would not stand in the ensuing ballot and would not contest the next election.
Mr Turnbull lashed out at a right-wing "insurgency" in the Liberal Party who used bullying tactics and intimidation to force the party into turning on itself.
He did not name people involved, but it was clearly a reference to former PM Tony Abbott, who he deposed as leader in 2015
He also warned that his challenger, Peter Dutton, would need to be sure he was eligible to sit in parliament.
Mr Turnbull said he would have advice from the Solicitor General before today's meeting on whether Mr Dutton's interest in two child care centres, which received Federal Government funding contravened Section 44.
"I cannot underline too much how important it is that anyone who seeks to be prime minister of Australia is eligible to be a member of parliament," Mr Turnbull said.
Should the PM resign it would clear the field for Treasurer Scott Morrison to stand against Mr Dutton.
Former Health Minister Greg Hunt has indicated he would run as Mr Dutton's deputy. Kelly O'Dwyer was nominated as a deputy for Mr Morrison, but she turned down the nomination.
Mr Morrison is not the only supporter of the PM to consider a run at the top job.
Late yesterday reports emerged that deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop was sounding out support for a tilt at the top job.
Mr Hogan defended the adjournment of Federal Parliament yesterday as a practical step to allow the Liberals Party to sort out its leadership problems.
Despite fierce criticism from the Opposition on the government's decision to cancel the final day's sitting of the House of Representatives, Mr Hogan said it was more pragmatic.
"It's just a practical thing," he said. "For the Liberal Party to have a meeting it needs to have its parliamentary members there.
"And for parliament to function it needs to have the members of the government sitting."
But he agreed the optics of the move would not sit well with voters, who have been critical of the the focus on leadership rather than governing the country.
"You walk down the street and talk to people and they're appalled at what's happening in parliament," he said.
"That's one of the reasons I made the decision to sit on the cross benches if a spill motion goes ahead.
"This revolving door of prime ministers - I think we've had seven in the past 10 years or so - has to stop."
In other political news Labor narrowly lost two votes of no confidence in the government, one in the House of Representatives and the other in the Senate.
The Lower House vote was lost on party lines, 69-68 and in the Senate the crossbench sided with the Government to defeat it 35-31.