POLITICS

Pyne Brags About Rise Of Liberal 'Moderates' In Leaked Recording

He also said marriage equality will happen 'sooner than everyone thinks'.

26/06/2017 8:15 PM AEST | Updated 26/06/2017 9:53 PM AEST

The details of a leaked recording of senior Liberal Party member Christopher Pyne discussing the rise of the influence of "moderates" in the party have been aired to television on Monday night.

In a Sky News exclusive aired to 'The Bolt Report', host Andrew Bolt revealed the nature of the comments, which were recorded during a speech Pyne delivered at a private event on Friday night, where the Minister for Defence Industry said he believes party members such as Attorney-General George Brandis and himself "are in the winners' circle" of the Liberal Party for surviving a factional swing "to the Right".

"Most of your senior cabinet ministers, George Brandis, Marise Payne [and] yours truly... Quite a few of us are senior cabinet ministers in a Turnbull government. Now there was a time when people said it wouldn't happen, but George and I kept the faith," Pyne said in the speech.

"We voted for Malcolm Turnbull in every ballot he's ever been in... So we are actually doing pretty well, we moderates for you in Canberra.

"We have done very well as a group of people over many decades when people said the party was swinging to the Right and we were finished."

The leaked recording comes as accusations of disloyalty were thrown towards Pyne on Monday for the comments amid the possibility of a factional split within the Liberal Party and the stalling of the marriage equality debate in Australia.

According to the recording, Pyne also used the speech on Friday night to say that marriage equality could become a reality in Australia "sooner than everyone thinks", despite having fought for it for two years.

"We have to deliver a couple of things and one of those that we've got to deliver before too long is marriage equality in this country," he said.

"I said that two years ago, it didn't go so well. We've got to be honest about it, but we are working on it.

"We're going to get it. I think it might even be sooner than everyone thinks and your people, your friends in Canberra, are working for that outcome."

The comments also come as conservative commentators such as Bolt attacked Pyne on Monday for the speech as a move to break the Coalition's election promises.

In response to the recording, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott voiced his disapproval of Pyne's comments during a regular appearance on Sydney radio 2GB.

"This appears to be the confession that he has made to his close colleagues in the Left faction," he told host Ray Hadley. "Christopher Pyne wasn't just a member of my cabinet, he was actually in the leadership team and it's important that you show loyalty."

"But if he's to be believed on Friday night, that loyalty was never there which is incredibly disappointing."

In a statement also released on Monday in response to the recording leak, Pyne was forced to deny a change is "imminent," and said he supported the current Turnbull Government plebiscite policy on marriage equality in Australia.

"I support marriage equality and if Labor had supported the plebiscite, marriage equality would be a reality now," the statement said.

"The Government has no plans to alter the policy."

Appearing on the ABC's 'Q&A' on Monday night, Pyne continued to defend his position voiced in the recording and his "fundamental belief in marriage equality".

"I've said, for many years, that I want marriage equality in Australia. I've campaigned for it. I spoke to a group of supporters -- generally -- of marriage equality on Friday night, and told them what I've said many times before in the media, which is to have hope that there will be marriage equality in Australia, that it will come eventually," he said.

"Obviously I support the policy. I want there to be a vote of the people so that they are part of that outcome."

The Minister also responded to Abbott's calls of disloyalty by saying "nobody could ever question my determination to see a Coalition government in power".

"I have won nine elections with the Liberal banner. I've served in the Cabinet and the leadership group for, now, a very long period of time," he said.

"I believe in the values of the Liberal Party and the National Party, about smaller government and individual freedom, national security and international status. Of course, leaders change in political parties.

"My vote for Malcolm Turnbull, over my wholecareer, is not a secret. But obviously when Tony Abbott was the leader, I got up every morning... from when he was working for the leader to do telephone conference calls every day, to work out how we could get rid of the Rudd-Gillard Government -- and we did.

"And that was for Tony Abbott. But more than Tony Abbott, it was for the Australian people, because I believe we were getting rid of a bad government and putting in a better one with Tony Abbott as Prime Minister."

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