Malcolm Turnbull’s contact with both Julia Banks and Kerryn Phelps is causing concern for the Coalition. Picture: AFP
Malcolm Turnbull’s contact with both Julia Banks and Kerryn Phelps is causing concern for the Coalition. Picture: AFP

Turnbull ‘played role’ in Banks defection

MALCOLM Turnbull is again under fire from his former colleagues after reports emerged that the former PM had been in "regular contact" with Dr Kerryn Phelps and may have had a hand in Julia Banks' resignation from the Liberal Party.

The former PM was said to have counselled friend and longtime supporter Banks before she made the shock decision to leave the party.

Ms Banks, whose move has been described as "treacherous", will now sit as an independent, further throwing Scott Morrison's government in turmoil.

Liberal Party powerbrokers are also said to be furious over reports that Mr Turnbull has also been in touch with new Wentworth MP, Dr Kerryn Phelps.

 

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull walks in the rain near his home at Point Piper, Sydney. Picture: John Feder/The Australian.
Former PM Malcolm Turnbull walks in the rain near his home at Point Piper, Sydney. Picture: John Feder/The Australian.

According to The Australian, Mr Turnbull and Dr Phelps have been in "regular" contact via text message as part of a "handover".

Dr Phelps, an independent, claimed Mr Turnbull's former seat of Wentworth in a shock by-election victory in October.

A senior Liberal source reportedly told The Australian that Mr Turnbull was counselling Dr Phelps on strategy and that "his hands are all over the Julia Banks" resignation.

"He is consumed by bringing down the government," the Liberal source reportedly told the publication.

Malcolm Turnbull is reportedly advising both Julia Banks and Keryn Phelps. Picture: Supplied
Malcolm Turnbull is reportedly advising both Julia Banks and Keryn Phelps. Picture: Supplied

 

Former colleagues of the former PM are said to be disappointed over the support Mr Turnbull has given Dr Phelps, particularly after he refused to publicly back Liberal candidate Dave Sharma during the Wentworth campaign, reports The Australian.

There are also reports that Ms Banks consulted with Dr Phelps for weeks before ditching Scott Morrison's government.

 

Former Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said the Liberal Party as a problem with women. Picture: AAP
Former Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said the Liberal Party as a problem with women. Picture: AAP

 

Julia Banks sensationally walked out of the Liberal Party. Picture: AAP
Julia Banks sensationally walked out of the Liberal Party. Picture: AAP

 

The Australian also reported that Ms Banks spoke with three female independent MPs - Cathy McGowan, Rebekha Sharkie and Dr Phelps - in the weeks prior to her resignation.

One of Dr Phelps' staffers, former Labor adviser Darrin Barnett, told The Australian that Mr Turnbull and the new MP had spoken but denied it had been daily and that it had been "almost exclusively about constituency matters".

 

Things are looking grim for Scott Morrison’s government. Picture: Getty Images
Things are looking grim for Scott Morrison’s government. Picture: Getty Images

One of Mr Turnbull's former staffers reportedly stayed on when Dr Phelps took over to help smooth the transition.

Dr Phelps won Wentworth after Mr Turnbull's retirement from parliament by 1860 votes.

Many Coalition powerbrokers blamed the loss on Mr Turnbull for refusing to publicly back Mr Sharma, despite requests from Mr Morrison to do so.

Mr Sharma is being encouraged to run again for the seat at the next federal election.

Ms Banks announced she would not be contesting the next election, accusing both major political parties of "bullying and intimidation" in the wake of the leadership spill in August.

 

- with the Australian



Driver five times over the legal limit needed help walking

premium_icon Driver five times over the legal limit needed help walking

Police will allege they could smell liquor in the vehicle

Woman fronts court over syringe attack at hospital

premium_icon Woman fronts court over syringe attack at hospital

Police will allege she was asked to leave but became aggressive

SNEAK PEEK: Iconic Byron restaurant gets delicious makeover

premium_icon SNEAK PEEK: Iconic Byron restaurant gets delicious makeover

Custom seafood platters and chill in one of the best locations