Turnbull’s parting gift to the LNP
HUNDREDS of former supporters have rejoined the Liberal National Party since Malcolm Turnbull was rolled, in a sign the conservative base has endorsed the change.
In less than three months, a few hundred new members have signed up after they had previously quit or failed to renew their membership.
The figures were discussed during a recent LNP state executive meeting and are being used within the party as a sign the leadership change has provided a boost to their stocks.
The move gives the LNP hope it can draw on a larger field of supporters to defend a swathe of marginal seats in Queensland that are at risk of falling to Labor.
LNP campaign director Lincoln Folo said the rise in members was almost entirely made up by people who had left recently.
"People who weren't fans of Turnbull have come back," he said.
Mr Folo said there was a surge in memberships after Mr Turnbull rolled Tony Abbott in 2015 but the magnitude was larger this time.
Mr Morrison said he was "tremendously encouraged" by the growth of supporters and noted it was stronger in Queensland than elsewhere.
The surge in support comes as Mr Morrison and Mr Turnbull engaged in a public spat over the former prime minister's recent criticism of the Government.
Mr Morrison told radio presenter Alan Jones that Mr Turnbull would not be invited to represent Australia again after he went beyond his "brief" at the Bali Our Ocean Conference and criticised plans to move the embassy in Israel.
The Prime Minister also said he was "aware of" Mr Turnbull "liking" a tweet about the Government's slump in the polls, but said, "I just brush it off."
Mr Turnbull hit back on Twitter, saying Mr Morrison "asked me to discuss trade and the embassy issue in Bali and we had a call before I left to confirm his messages which I duly relayed to [Indonesian president] @jokowi".
Mr Turnbull later hit out at "sensationalism" in media reports, saying he had made a simple statement of fact.
His comments sparked a backdown by Mr Morrison, who issued a statement conceding he asked Mr Turnbull to discuss other issues if they were raised by his Indonesian hosts.
"As head of delegation, he was briefed on appropriate responses on other issues that could be raised in any direct discussions with the President, in his role as head of delegation," Mr Morrison said.