ONE of Tony Abbott's closest political allies has said the former prime minister should have been allowed to stand down instead of facing a leadership ballot.
Tensions remain within the Coalition about the successful challenge, which saw Malcolm Turnbull take on the top job earlier this month.
Agriculture Minister and Deputy Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce told Q&A he was disappointed at the process of changing leaders.
"I think that what would have been better, to be honest, is if Tony had stepped down," he said.
"It was becoming quite clear that the polls were saying it was unlikely he would be able to win, I don't think Tony would have taken us over a cliff.
"I think the proper process would have been Tony stepping down and then Malcolm has always been the obvious heir-apparent, that would have been the preferable path for me."