'Politics is not about friendship': Gold Coast MP reveals why he knifed his mate Tony Abbott

By Melissa Hills

A close friend of Tony Abbott has revealed why he felt compelled to betray an eight- year friendship and vote for rival Malcolm Turnbull in the party room.

Assistant Defence Minister and Gold Coast MP Stuart Robert says he had to put sentiment aside and make a necessary decision to vote against Mr Abbott on Monday night.

Stuart Robert with Tony Abbott when he was Opposition Leader. Photo: Getty Images
Gold Coast MP and Assistant Defence Minister Stuart Robert. Photo: Facebook
The switch to Mr Turnbull appears to have translated into an immediate electoral bounce for the Liberals ahead of Saturday’s by-election in the seat of Canning. Photo: AAP

Mr Turnbull was sworn in as the new Prime Minister yesterday after a leadership challenge and he beat Mr Abbott in a vote 54 votes to 44.

Mr Robert revealed it was a 'devastating' decision but he feels that Mr Turnbull's economic experience will help the Gold Coast thrive.

Tony Abott at his leaving speech. Photo: AAP

"Politics is not about friendship — it’s about capacity and confidence,” Mr Robert told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“Those are the rules of the game and we all know them when we enter politics.

“Tony was devastated. I was also devastated but the national interest was fundamental.”

Mr Robert revealed the dramatic events which led to an unexpected change of Liberal Party leader.

The Nationals have negotiated a new coalition deal with Malcolm Turnbull, winning assurances on a number of policy fronts. Photo: AAP

He said that Mr Abbott was 'obviously devastated' by didn't hold any malice towards his former colleagues and that made him a ' tremendous Australian'.

“We have been friends since 2007 and we went to Afghanistan together for the first time."

Mr Roberts told the Gold Coast Bulletin that he would be raising important issues with the new Prime Minister including domestic violence, ice and federal funding for the city’s light rail system.

Malcolm Turnbull was sworn in as Prime Minister of Australia on Tuesday. Photo: AAP

“This will be a big change for the country,” he said.

“I’m convinced a strong team has been put together with a strong focus on productivity, economic growth and jobs.”