Dry a bigger focus than “party bickering” in federal politics: Wright

Matt Wright

Matt Wright

Battling the drought is of greater importance to people in regional areas than “party bickering” in federal politics, Dubbo Chamber of Commerce president Matt Wright says.

Senior minister Peter Dutton mounted a failed challenge for the Liberal Party leadership on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull winning a ballot 48-35.

In the wake of the showdown, Mr Wright had doubts about how much appetite for change at the top job there was among Dubbo businesses and the wider community.

He argued the months of dry weather were of greater concern.

“I think in regional areas at the moment, there’s such a massive focus on the current drought conditions that that’s taking a little bit of precedence over potential party bickering on a national political level,” Mr Wright said.

“ I think if we start talking about our region, they see far greater importance placed on the pressures of drought conditions and how business is going to get through those in the next six to 12 months, even in the next couple of years really.

“So I think there’s probably more pressing matters at the moment for a lot of regional people, a lot of regional businesses.”

Mr Wright emphasised the importance of the government having a focus on the drought, which was not “something that would go away when it rain(ed)”.

“So look ongoing and committed focus on supporting not only the agricultural sectors but the associated businesses that will also be impacted,” he said.

“I think that’s a more important topic than some bickering over energy policy, or whatever it might be.”

Mr Turnbull would likely support Mr Wright’s comments, saying in the wake of the ballot Australians expected the government to focus on them, not internal party issues.

"What they don't like is being focused on ourselves or talking about each other," the prime minister told reporters alongside his deputy leader Julie Bishop.

"That is why it is very important that today the Liberal party room has confirmed our leadership of the party - a reminder for parties and governments to be united and determined to keep delivering for the people for whom they work."

In recent weeks Mr Turnbull has visited drought-affected farms at Trangie and Forbes.

Mr Dutton thanked colleagues for their "considerable support" in his failed tilt.

"I harbour no animosity towards Malcolm Turnbull, I've always had a very good, productive, working relationship with Malcolm Turnbull," he said.

"I made a decision to contest this ballot because I want to make sure we can keep Bill Shorten from ever being prime minister of this country.

"I respect the outcome and I fully support the prime minister and the cabinet."

Mr Dutton did not rule out rechallenging the PM.