Education minister Christopher Pyne has denied that prime minister Tony Abbott will face a fresh challenge to his leadership following speculation about another looming coup attempt.
‘They’re just rumours circulating out of the Canberra press gallery, no basis in fact whatsoever, we’re getting on with the job this week, there’s no suggestion there’ll be any kind of motion or leadership change next week,’ Mr Pyne told the Nine Network on Friday morning.
‘There is a bit of static on the television news last night, that is not a leadership challenge. There will not be a spill motion move next week.
‘Two weeks ago, it was a different story and I was quite honest about it.’
The latest rumblings about Mr Abbott’s leadership emerged on Thursday night, with Seven News and the ABC reporting that Malcolm Turnbull now has the numbers to topple the prime minister.
But a government insider and close Abbott supporter said Mr Turnbull just didn’t have the numbers.
Mr Pyne urged his coalition colleagues to go back to their electorates over the weekend and get on with their jobs.
‘Let’s keep on doing the things that need to be done,’ he added.
Responding to Mr Pyne’s comments, Labor infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese said Mr Abbott’s leadership ‘is over’.
‘There is a challenge coming,’ Mr Albanese told Nine.
‘It’s a matter of when it happens, how it happens and who replaces him.’
Mr Abbott will be well clear of Canberra on Friday as he tours central Queensland with defence force personnel for disaster relief events.
On Friday afternoon, Mr Abbott heads for New Zealand for talks on security with Prime Minister John Key.
Liberal parliamentary secretary Steve Ciobo said the government was focused on the job at hand – restoring the budget.
‘I’m not going to buy into this sort of speculation,’ he told ABC Radio.
He dismissed ongoing leadership chatter as ‘media hyperventilation’.
Asked if Mr Abbott would still be leader in two weeks, Mr Ciobo said: ‘Absolutely’.