During the week of 27-31 August, I took my mobile office to 14 sites across the electorate of Fairfax speaking to many of you about matters that concern you, including the recent leadership spill. For those of you who were unable to meet me in person, I would like to take this opportunity to explain now.
What transpired in Canberra was both confusing and distressing for the nation. Australians’ rights to participate in our democracy are the envy of people the world over and so as a member of the Liberal Party Room and your elected representative, I offer my sincere apologies.
Let me assure you, I did not head to Canberra expecting a leadership spill and I made clear to my colleagues that I would vote against one. So I was completely caught by surprise when the week began with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull by-passing a spill motion and vacating the chair as Liberal leader to force a secret ballot on his leadership.
The week unravelled quickly. Half the Cabinet resigned and Parliament closed early. It was clear to me that allowing our party’s leadership paralysis to persist until the September sitting period was unacceptable and so I added my name to a petition calling for a second party room meeting to resolve the issue.
It was at that meeting Scott Morrison was elected leader of the Liberal Party and thus our new Prime Minister. He has my full support.
Media reports that I backed any particular candidate are purely speculation. Then and now I respect the confidentiality of the secret ballot process. What I will say is that ahead of the ballot I explained my position to all the candidates involved and voted for stability and unity moving forward.
I am pleased that the uncertainty is now behind us and we can open a fresh page in our nation’s history. My focus remains on representing your interests in the Federal Parliament and ensuring that we continue to receive substantial Commonwealth funding to advance our growing region.
Ted O’Brien MP