Liberal leadership spill: The faces of Tony Abbott’s executioners emerge

Liberal leadership spill: The faces of Tony Abbott’s executioners emerge

news.com.au: JULIE Bishop moonlighted with Malcolm Turnbull for more than six months, including at a Sydney charity event on Saturday, before ultimately handing him the nation’s top job.

The Foreign Minister formed a tight relationship with Mr Turnbull in the wake of the failed leadership spill in February before she produced the ultimate power play — leaving Tony ­Abbott without a running mate in the leadership spill.

The faces of the executioners began to emerge more clearly yesterday as political pundits began to piece ­together the slick execution.

Colleagues yesterday claimed that ministers Christopher Pyne and ­Michael Keenan had pushed strongly for Mr Turnbull, although neither would admit that publicly.

John Howard’s former chief of staff turned senator, Arthur Sinodinos, played a key co-ordination role.

Mr Turnbull’s parliamentary secretary Paul Fletcher and little known senator James McGrath joined forces to head the numbers count.

Their “runners” were assistant ministers Simon Birmingham and Mitch Fifield, who assisted in getting troops over the line for the 54-44 win.

In fact, before they entered the spill Turnbull’s camp believed they had a 10 vote margin — they were exactly right.

Bronwyn Bishop won’t say who she backed for the Liberal leadership / Picture: Ray Strange.

Bronwyn Bishop won’t say who she backed for the Liberal leadership / Picture: Ray Strange.Source:News Corp Australia

To her credit, Ms Bishop yesterday fronted up for multiple interviews ­accepting the role she played, conceding Mr Abbott simply did not improve since the failed leadership coup in February.

She accepted parallels would be drawn between the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd era, but believed it would be the right decision. “I am aware of the parallels that will be drawn but I believe I had an obligation to inform him of what they were thinking,” she said.

“I was deeply concerned at the ­despair within the party room.

“I was concerned by the fact that the prime minister had asked for six months to turn things around and that had not occurred.”

Ms Bishop, who said it was “the toughest thing I’ve had to do in my political life”, said Mr Abbott remained calm as she told him he no longer had the support of the party room shortly before question time on Monday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop in Question Time yesterday / Picture: Kym Smith

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop in Question Time yesterday / Picture: Kym SmithSource:News Corp Australia

“He was calm, he was obviously very hurt. Emotionally this is a very draining time for people and I feel for Tony and I feel for Margie and his daughters. I knew them well,” she said.

Ms Bishop said it was her role as deputy to tell Mr Abbott the party were not happy.

“I did what a deputy has to do and that is reflect to the leader what I understood to be the views of the party, they were in fact the views because the party room voted for Malcolm Turnbull as the leader last night.

“Being the deputy brings certain ­obligations and responsibilities and one of those is to keep the leader ­informed of the views of the backbench and that’s what I did.”

Conservative senator Cory Bernardi said it wouldn’t be hard to work out who the faceless men of the party were.

“Treachery of the highest order. What’s done is done and they get the spoils of office,” he said.

And what that includes is promotion to the frontbench of the federal ­government.

Mr Turnbull will promote and ­demote his MPs late this week or early next week.

TEAM TURNBULL

Team Turnbull / The Daily Telegraph

Team Turnbull / The Daily TelegraphSource:The Daily Telegraph

TEAM ABBOTT

Team Abbott / The Daily Telegraph

Team Abbott / The Daily TelegraphSource:The Daily Telegraph