SUNRISE: Malcolm Turnbull comments on Tony Abbott's behaviour in recent weeks2:13
TONY Abbott continues to be a thorn in Malcolm Turnbull’s side, but the Prime Minister has refused to be drawn on comments his predecessor is “overshadowing” him.
During an interview on Friday morning with Mr Turnbull, Sunrise presenter Samantha Armytage said the former Prime Minister is “overshadowing everything we talk about”.
On Thursday, Mr Abbott lashed out at “sneaky, corrosive leaks” in the Liberal Party that claimed he would have lost his seat without Mr Turnbull’s personal intervention during the 2016 federal election campaign.
But Mr Turnbull was coy in his response to Armytage, saying they could “focus on issues that are important to Australia” instead of talking about Mr Abbott.
“But it keeps happening,” Armytage pressed. “Is he doing a Rudd, does he want your job, how do you contain it?”
Mr Turnbull said his job was to deliver for the Australian people and there were always “many potential distractions in my job”.
“My focus is to concentrate on delivering for the Australian people, ensuring that we have strong economic growth and opportunities,” he told the Seven network.
Mr Turnbull last night denied knowing who leaked the polling and dismissed claims there’s open warfare between him and Tony Abbott.
“Totally unfair. Ridiculous thing to say,” he told the ABC on Thursday night.
During an interview with Sky News, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Mr Abbott has to be careful he’s not seen helping Bill Shorten become the next prime minister.
When asked about Mr Abbott’s proposed return to Cabinet, he said: “That’s a conversation above my pay grade”.
The Australian has reported Liberal powerbrokers are looking for a senior figure — possibly John Howard — to play peacemaker between warring party factions.
One senior source told The Australian the conflict was focused mostly on NSW Liberal in-fighting between pro-Turnbull moderates and rival right-wingers still smarting about Mr Abbott’s ousting as prime minister.
Speaking on US Vice-President Mike Pence’s visit to Sydney this weekend, Mr Turnbull said the visit showed the Trump administration was committed to the region.
“They’re committed to Australia, and we are close allies,” he told the Seven network.
The pair will discuss regional security, North Korea, and the global battle against terrorism among other issues.
“Security is right at the heart of it. We appreciate that so early in this new trump administration, the vice president has come out to the region and visited Australia,” he said.