Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has sidestepped inquiries about Ian Macfarlane’s selection to switch to the National Celebration in his initial extended-kind interview since last week’s announcement.
Liberal MPs lashed out at Mr Macfarlane following he revealed his intention to switch parties and accused him of showing “naked ambition” and “gaming the system” to return to the frontbench.
When asked about his reaction to the move, Mr Turnbull told 7.30 it was an internal matter for the Queensland Liberal-National party.
“I feel there are some troubles to be sorted out with the LNP in Queensland but these internal celebration matters, I feel we should hold internal to the Coalition,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull stated he dumped Mr Macfarlane from Cabinet in September simply because he wanted to make way for new talent, not because of the minister’s efficiency.
“He is a pal of mine, he’s been a quite capable minister,” he mentioned.
“[But] there are only so many locations in the Cabinet and you can’t bring new talent up unless some of the older talent moves on.”
Even though the LNP State Executive still demands to sign off on Mr Macfarlane’s move, the National Celebration is using the defection to push for a fourth Cabinet position.
It is understood this is also a move by the Queensland LNP branch to boost its influence over the Nationals party area in Canberra.
The celebration at the moment holds 3 spots in Cabinet, but it argues that below a formula contained in the Coalition agreement, it is now entitled to 3.76.
According to Treasurer Scott Morrison, the Nationals should not hold their breath.
“What the Coalition agreement says is that when there is a reshuffle, that is when the leader decides to do 1 or when there is an election, then you have to take into account the proportions of the two parties, so what this does, is does not adjust anything,” Mr Morrison mentioned.
Some MPs have suggested Mr Turnbull could use the chance to demote his Specific Minister of State, Mal Brough, who is below siege more than his involvement in the Peter Slipper affair.
When asked whether Mr Brough had already presented to stand down, Mr Turnbull told 7.30 he stated he did not want “to go into discussions amongst myself and ministers on this matter”.
The LNP State Executive is expected to meet on Monday to approve or reject Mr Macfarlane’s move.
Topics: government-and-politics, federal-government, liberal-national-celebration-queensland, liberals, nationals, australia, qld