Liberal leadership spill: MP Tony Pasin says 'bitterness and disunity' is now gone

Liberal MP Tony Pasin says he is not embarrassed by his actions during last week's leadership crisis in Canberra, which ended with Scott Morrison succeeding Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister.

Mr Pasin publicly backed conservative challenger Peter Dutton, though he disputed reports he was the second of 43 MPs to sign a petition calling for a leadership spill.

"Multiple pages were circulating," he said.

"A significant number of people had signed it before I signed it.”

He added that he had not attempted to sell his vote in exchange for a position in the ministry.

But he acknowledged the drama had not been well received by voters.

"None of this is edifying," he said.

"None of this is easy.

"No-one involved in this process did it lightly.

"No-one in Australia likes leadership spills, particularly in the party of government."

He described as a surprise Mr Turnbull's decision to call a snap leadership vote last Tuesday, and said he was "gobsmacked" so many MPs had supported Mr Dutton's challenge.

After that, he said, it became clear Mr Turnbull's prime ministership was in "terminal decline" and that the matter needed to be resolved.

He said he had voted for Mr Dutton in the belief he would give the Liberal Party the best chance of winning the next election.

He also supported Mr Dutton's proposals to focus on energy prices rather than emissions reduction, abandon proposed corporate tax cuts and make progress on Catholic school funding.

But he said he had respect for all three candidates who contested the second ballot on Friday, and was now a "committed supporter" of Mr Morrison.

"The bitterness and disunity that entered the Liberal party room a decade ago is gone," he said.

"What's been achieved is the unification of the Liberal Party.

Achieving that unification had been worth the "transactional cost", he said.

The federal government would now be able to re-focus on issues such as energy, jobs, roads and phone reception, and on ensuring Labor leader Bill Shorten did not become the next Prime Minister.

Despite having backed Mr Dutton, Mr Pasin said he would still be able to voice the concerns of Barker's voters in the Liberal party room.

"I'm honest, frank and someone who doesn't take a step backwards in standing up for the interests of the electorate," he said.

"Not only will I continue to have those discussions in the party room, I'll continue to have them in the four walls of the Prime Minister's office.

"That's my job."

Mr Pasin will not have to wait long to hear what the community thinks of the debacle – he is scheduled to hold a community meeting at Murray Bridge Community Club at 6.30pm on Wednesday night.

3.30pm Thursday

Member for Barker Tony Pasin has issued a statement of support for conservative challenger Peter Dutton in the leadership civil war which has engulfed the federal Liberal Party this week.

Mr Pasin said every decision he made in Canberra was with his constituents – the people of the Murraylands, Riverland and South East – in mind.

“At this point my main concern is that the party room needs to meet and resolve this issue as soon as possible,” he said.

“No one enjoys leadership spills, particularly when they take place within the party of government.

“While I can’t control when, or indeed if, leadership spills take place, if a vote is to take place, it is my belief Mr Dutton is the individual I am best placed to work with in the interests of the people of Barker.”

But he said he would continue to fight for lower electricity prices, more jobs and better roads and telecommunications for the people of Barker regardless of who was Prime Minister.

This story ‘Bitterness and disunity’ is gone from Liberal Party, says MP Tony Pasin following leadership spill first appeared on The Murray Valley Standard.