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Fed: Liberals' policy won't change even if leader does: Smith

15 Mar 2009 12:33 PM

CANBERRA, March 15 AAP - The federal opposition's position on several key issues won't change even if Peter Costello became their new leader, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says.

News Ltd has reported a poll conducted of Liberal MPs suggests 28 of the 66 MPs who responded wanted the former Howard government treasurer as leader, compared to 21 MPs for Malcolm Turnbull.

"The Liberal Party is going through a very difficult and divided time," Mr Smith told the Nine Network, adding that Mr Costello was either "making life a misery for Malcolm Turnbull or he is stalking him."

"The fact that you've got such a large number of Liberal MPs who are prepared to indicate to journalists that they don't have support in their leader, I think, presents a very difficult situation for Mr Turnbull and the Liberals."

The government was proceeding to the next election with the attitude that whoever would take the party's reins, the party's stance on IR, climate change and the financial crisis won't change, Mr Smith said.

"Whether it's Mr Turnbull, whether it's Mr Costello, time and the Liberal Party and their disunity will tell.

"But from a fundamental public policy point of view, I don't think it matters one dot."