Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated he is unlikely to bow to calls to reshuffle his cabinet to bring in more conservatives.
“My cabinet reflects all traditions in the Liberal party and indeed the National Party. It is a very, very talented and capable cabinet,” he told Fairfax Media when asked if he had enough conservatives.
There have been reports that some senior Liberals are agitating for moderate cabinet ministers to be dumped in favour of conservatives to end dissension in the ranks.
Tensions in the Liberal party have been rising since a recording of senior cabinet minister Christopher Pyne boasting of the moderates’ influence in the government nearly a fortnight ago.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has stepped up his criticism of the direction of the government, and he said on Wednesday that he would not stop.
He’s told his local newspaper, The Manly Daily, that he doesn’t want a job back in cabinet.
“I am very happy being a backbench member of the government because it gives me the freedom to speak as I think best, and it gives me more time to be a very conscious local member.”
He said he had done nothing wrong by talking publicly on policy issues.
“Obviously I support the government, I support the prime minister,” he said.
“I am a member of the government and it has always been the Liberal Party tradition that backbenchers can speak their mind on policy issues.”
Fellow Liberal MPs and National colleagues have called on Mr Abbott to ease up.
Nationals senator John Williams on Tuesday said the public divisions in the Liberal Party were taking away from the government’s achievements.
“That is very frustrating, it is very annoying and I’m just fed up with it,” he told ABC radio.