Tony Abbott issues warning to rebel MPs over split
TONY Abbott has warned rebels within the Liberal Party they risked delivering Labor 'at least two terms' in government if they left the party to form a new conservative party.
The former Prime Minister, himself a conservative figurehead, said it was up to MPs to fix the party not leave it.
Writing in The Australian, he said it would be a "catastrophic mistake" to abandon the party and argued that MPs owed the Liberal Party 'respect and loyalty' as none of them would have been elected without the backing of the organisation.
"We don't owe the party slavish obedience but we certainly owe it respect and loyalty," Mr Abbott wrote.
"That's what John Howard used to say and it's certainly what I believe. If we think the party is headed in the wrong direction or is making a big mistake, our duty is to try to fix it, not to leave it."
The commentary comes amid growing concern within the Liberal Party that conservative senator Cory Bernardi is on the brink of spearheading a new conservative force.
Should conservatives break away from Liberal Party?
This poll ended on 14 January 2017.
Yes. The party has lost its way
No. MPs should stay and fix it
Depends on how many they can get
I wouldn't vote for another mob
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Queensland Nationals MP George Christensen has also warned if there is not a change in direction from the Turnbull government, he too will not be able to "stay inside the tent".
Mr Abbott suggests that Senator Bernardi, who is fresh from a three-month stay in the US where he witnessed the ascendancy of Donald Trump, is misguided in thinking Australia would follow the same path.
Mr Abbott wrote that after he was dumped as party leader in September last year, he received "thousands" of letters and cards offering support, and more were still arriving. About a third asked him to consider starting a new party.
"Time and time again, I replied that, for all its faults and failings, the Liberal-National coalition is our country's best hope of sensible centre-right government and that it's much easier to repair an existing party than to form a new one."