John Barilaro attack on Malcolm Turnbull backfires as senior Coalition figures rally behind PM

Senior Coalition MPs have rallied around Malcolm Turnbull after an extraordinary attack by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who said the Prime Minister had shown "no leadership" and should quit before Christmas. 

The outburst by the Nationals leader, two days after his visit to Griffith, highlights concern within the NSW Coalition about the flow-on effect of the unpopular Turnbull government on its state counterparts, and follows a period of tension in the Liberal-National stable.

Mr Barilaro on Friday said he had "lost all hope" in the Prime Minister after the LNP's apparent loss in the Queensland election.

While Queensland LNP leader Tim Nicholls is refusing to concede defeat, so far the party has only 36 seats of the required 47 to win a majority.

"What really got my goat on Sunday was to hear the Prime Minister of this nation turn around and say there were no federal issues that affected the state government and the state election," Mr Barilaro told conservative 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones.

"I mean that's just a joke. If you're completely out of touch like that comment … in my mind it just shows there is no leadership."

Mr Barilaro said if Mr Turnbull did not quit soon, he might be rolled by his own party.

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"The best thing that can happen right now - we don't want to see the stabbing in the back - but that's exactly what we're going to see in the months ahead if something doesn't happen," he said.

"My view is Turnbull should give Australians a Christmas gift and go before Christmas."

Mr Turnbull dismissed the comments as an attempt to appease Jones.

Barnaby Joyce said the comments were unhelpful.  

"He's on Alan Jones and just trying to ingratiate himself with Alan, telling him what he wants to hear," Mr Turnbull told 3AW host Neil Mitchell on Friday.

"If that was a serious view he held, you would think that he would speak to me directly."

Mr Barilaro holds the regional seat of Monaro with a thin 2.5 per cent margin.

NSW is set to go to the polls in March 2019, and there are fears that, should a federal election not be held first, the Berejiklian government will be punished by an electorate frustrated with the Turnbull administration.

One senior Liberal confirmed it is "a genuine concern" being discussed at a party level as Bill Shorten and Labor move further ahead in the opinion polls.

However Ms Berejiklian issued a statement on Friday saying Mr Turnbull "has my full and absolute support".

"Mr Barilaro has expressed a personal view which I do not share ... Mr Barilaro is well aware of my position," she said.

"Bill Shorten's Labor Party is the biggest risk to our nation's future."

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, currently fighting a byelection in his seat of New England, said he was "very disappointed" by Mr Barilaro's remarks.

"I had no notification. If I had, I would have advised in the strongest terms that those comments not be made. I don't think it profits anybody," he said.

"He certainly wasn't put up to it by anybody who has any political nous."

Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield also lambasted Mr Barilaro's comments.

"Can I say to get a run by whacking your own side requires no political skill. It's weak. And it's lazy. And it lacks character," he said.

Mr Barilaro's comments follow a spate of disagreements between the Liberal and National parties over same-sex marriage and the LNP's losses in the Queensland election.

The Nationals were also calling for an inquiry into the banking sector, flouting official Coalition policy, and the two parties have been at odds over who should fill Fiona Nash's now-vacant NSW Senate spot.

- with Rachel Clun, Fergus Hunter and Sean Nicholls

This article originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald