Member for Wannon Dan Tehan dismisses Malcolm Turnbull's London progressive speech as storm in a teacup

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull prepares for a speech to Britain's premier centre-right think tank the Policy Exchange in London, in which he claimed the Liberal Party was never a conservative organisation.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull prepares for a speech to Britain's premier centre-right think tank the Policy Exchange in London, in which he claimed the Liberal Party was never a conservative organisation.

MEMBER for Wannon Dan Tehan has dismissed the latest Liberal Party internal brawl as a “storm in a teacup’.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull set off another round of debate with supporters of former prime minister Tony Abbott with a speech in London this week.

Mr Turnbull claimed the Liberal Party was never founded as a conservative organisation.

Mr Turnbull highlighted that party founder Sir Robert Menzies in 1944, "went to great pains not to call his new centre right party a conservative party – rather he described our party as the Liberal Party, which he firmly anchored in the centre of Australian politics".

Mr Turnbull’s comments drew support from high-ranking government ministers and criticism from Mr Abbott’s supporters and right-wing Liberal members.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi both used Mr Turnbull’s remarks to recruit members, claiming that they were now the true conservatives.    

Mr Tehan, who is Veterans Affairs Minister and a former Abbott supporter, said the speech was a "storm in a teacup".

"When you look at our immigration, national security and budget repair policies, this government is a mixture of conservative and liberal values," he told The Australian Financial Review.

Mr Tehan’s comments marked the second time in a month that he has tried to hose down tensions withing the Liberal Party.

“I have been out and about in my electorate...the message I am getting loud and clear from the community is that they don’t want us to talk about ourselves,” Mr Tehan told Sky News last week.

Mr Tehan voted for Mr Abbott in the September 2015 leadership spill that installed Mr Turnbull as party leader and Prime Minister.

After winning the 2013 federal election, Mr Abbott appointed Mr Tehan as chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

The committee has an oversight role for Australia’s spy agencies and reviews counter terror legislation.

Mr Tehan’s public profile increased considerably as a result of the appointment, with the number of terrorist attacks rising significantly and highly controversial laws were proposed in response.

In early 2016, Mr Turnbull gave Mr Tehan his first ministerial portfolio.

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