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Abbott confident frontbenchers won't push for a leadership spill

Published: 25 Feb 2015 23:50:21 PST

Abbott confident frontbenchers won't push for a leadership spill

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivers his keynote speech during the B20 Summit in Sydney, July 17, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

CANBERRA - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday that he trusts fellow Coalition frontbenchers Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop when they say they will not push for a leadership spill.

Abbott has been under increasing pressure to call for a leadership vote at next Tuesday's party room meeting, with three federal MPs publicly stating the prime minister has lost their support this week.

Reports have also circulated that many more MPs would favor a change in leadership as recent polling figures and state election results continue to heap pressure on Australia's embattled leader.

Speculation has arisen recently that Turnbull, Australia's communications minister, and Bishop, the country's foreign minister, could put their hands up to challenge Abbott if a leadership spill is called for.

However, Bishop confirmed on Tuesday she "will not challenge the leader," while Turnbull said on Thursday night that Abbott "is not being undermined' by him.

Speaking to Sky News on Friday, Abbott said he has full belief in their word.

"They are my cabinet colleagues, they are my friends," Abbott said.

"I've known them both for a long time, I've worked closely with them for a long time.

"You always have your ups and downs, that's natural when you've got strong personalities talking about the most difficult decisions any country can face, but I trust them."

Abbott reiterated that he would not call for a leadership spill during an interview with Macquarie Radio on Friday.

"I'm expecting business as usual because this is a government with a very full agenda. I'm expecting just to get on with business and I'm confident that I have the full support of the cabinet."

When questioned about whether he had spoken to the apparent MPs that are reported as being in favor of a spill motion, Abbott said: "I don't know who these so-called dissidents are, I just know that if people have got a criticism, I encourage them to call me up and we talk about it."

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