Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressed media at the Australian High Commission in London.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressed media at the Australian High Commission in London. LUKAS COCH

PM backs 'liberal' tag as Hanson hunts

MALCOLM Turnbull has defended his Menzies speech as Pauline Hanson and Cory Bernardi use his comments to recruit party members.

The Prime Minister stood by his controversial speech in which he said the Liberals had never been a conservative party.

"I am proud to lead the party Robert Menzies founded ... I stand on the same political ground with the same political principles on which he founded our great party so many years ago,” he said.

"We combine conservative and liberal traditions, as I said in my speech.”

He again referred to former PM Tony Abbott as the source of the idea the party should be in the "sensible centre” and former PM John Howard's concept it was a "broad church”.

Mr Bernardi and Ms Hanson both launched a fresh recruitment drive.

"If you aren't welcome in the Turnbull Liberal team there is a credible and principled alternative,” Senator Bernardi said about his Australian Conservatives party.

Ms Hanson tweeted: "Confirmed. Malcolm Turnbull declares One Nation Australia's largest conservative party! Join us.”

- Tory Shepherd and Mathew Murphy



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