Philip Ruddock standing down as Government's Chief Whip
Electronic Media Monitoring Service
13-02-2015 07:50 PM
13-02-2015 07:50 PM
13-02-2015 08:25 PM
STEVE CANNANE, PRESENTER: The political convulsions in Canberra this week have taken a dramatic new twist.
Late this afternoon we learnt that the senior Liberal MP Philip Ruddock has been sacked at Chief Government Whip as a direct result of the spill motion that was moved by backbenchers against Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday.
I spoke to ABC's political editor Chris Uhlmann a short time ago.
Chris, why has Phillip Ruddock been sacked as Chief Government Whip?
CHRIS UHLMANN, POLITICAL EDITOR: I think in the eyes of those who are urging the Prime Minister to do this and that has been since the vote on Monday, from some senior government ministers is that they don't believe that he has done a very good job.
They think that they should have had better knowledge about the numbers and how close that they were going to be, and they don't believe that he has done a great job of being a conduit to the backbench so that the Prime Minister could have been warned that things are much worse than they are, but this has caught Liberals completely by surprise today.
This shock has rippled around the Liberal Party.
I have been contacted by quite a number of them who say this is just completely nuts and they do believe, as one of them said, it is the night of the long knives, there is retribution that the Prime Minister promised there wouldn't be and that it could cause more problems within the party.
STEVE CANNANE: Well Chris, this is the first scalp following the spill motion of earlier this week. Why is the first casualty a man who failed to corral enough numbers in that vote rather than somebody who was central to the issues around policy and process?
CHRIS UHLMANN: Well, that is exactly the question that those Liberals who are critical of the Prime Minister are putting to me at the moment, they are saying that the people who are responsible for this, is certainly not Phillip Ruddock, it is the Prime Minister, his Chief of Staff and his Treasurer. They're the ones they want to see change from them.
Now they want to see change from the Prime Minister, but a number of them do want a changing the Prime Minister's office, to his Chief of Staff to be replaced with someone else and some have even called this week for the Treasurer to be replaced.
So some of them would see replacing Phillip Ruddock as a very low order thing to do and it's not going to improve the fortunes of the Government.
STEVE CANNANE: And Chris, a man who was seen by many as a hero of the Howard years, I remember him getting that standing ovation at one of the election rallies?
CHRIS UHLMANN: Certainly a hero of the Howard years, did all the hard yards on immigration and you will remember was very much loved by the Liberal Party and loathed by great many people outside it, because he was seen as such a hard man on immigration, has been Attorney-General as well.
He has got 40 years of service to this party. He is the longest serving member of the House of Representatives, hugely regarded by people, including by the Prime Minister, known as the father of the House, so some will take his sacking very badly indeed.
STEVE CANNANE: Chris, just briefly, will Phillip Ruddock be the last casualty of this week's events?
CHRIS UHLMANN: I don't think so. I think that these events are now on a path that will end with the departure of the Prime Minister sometime later this year.
STEVE CANNANE: Chris Uhlmann, thanks very much.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Thank you.