No longer PM? I wouldn't be MP either: Turnbull

SYDNEY • Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will quit politics if he loses the leadership, he told News Corp Sunday newspapers.

He made the comments after conservative lawmaker Tony Abbott continued his criticism of the nation's direction under Mr Turnbull, who toppled Mr Abbott as prime minister in a 2015 ballot of Liberal party lawmakers and has been trailing the opposition Labor Party in opinion polls, reported newswire agency Bloomberg.

The Prime Minister said he understood the difficulty that Mr Abbott faces adjusting to life as a backbencher.

"It is a big wrench going from being leader to not, I understand that."

"When I cease to be prime minister, I will cease to be a Member of Parliament," Mr Turnbull told the papers. "I am not giving anyone else advice, but I just think that's what I would do."

He referred to former New Zealand prime minister John Key as an example of a leader who left politics with dignity.

Mr Turnbull led the LiberalNational coalition to a razor-thin election victory last year. His policy agenda has faced roadblocks ever since, and he is trying to get spending cuts through a Parliament where non-government lawmakers hold the balance of power.

'LEAVING WITH DIGNITY'

When I cease to be prime minister, I will cease to be a Member of Parliament.

AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM TURNBULL

According to The Guardian news site, Mr Abbott has recently criticised government policy and attacked the Liberal party's hierarchy, calling on conservative supporters to "take our party back".

Labor leader Bill Shorten said yesterday that the row between Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott was harming Australia. "I think it is about time that the Liberal party started to put its house in order," he said, according to The Guardian.

"They need a government which is focused on the needs of everyday people, not just some argument between two silly older blokes (about) who gets to sit in the prime minister's chair."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2017, with the headline 'No longer PM? I wouldn't be MP either: Turnbull'. Print Edition | Subscribe