Bronwyn Bishop to fight on, but Abbott, Ruddock, Heffernan futures unclear

Former speaker Bronwyn Bishop will get no assistance, says one NSW Liberal. Photo: Alex EllinghausenComment: Should we have a time limit on MP’s careers?
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Controversial Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop plans to contest the next federal election, but it is not yet clear if fellow party elders Bill Heffernan and Philip Ruddock will seek to remain in the Parliament beyond 2016.

And as pre-selections formally opened in 16 Liberal-held NSW seats on Tuesday, a spokesman for Tony Abbott said the former prime minister was still considering his future.

A deadline of February 19 has now been set for Mr Abbott and other Liberal MPs, when nominations close, to take a decision on his next move in politics after spending time over summer considering his future.

Amid talk of an attempted purge of conservative Liberals by the party moderates and a push for generational change, Mrs Bishop, Mr Heffernan and Mr Ruddock are just three of the MPs who could find themselves facing challenges.

Fellow Liberals Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Craig Kelly and Angus Taylor are also said to be facing possible challenges, though Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made clear his support for sitting members.

A spokesman for Mrs Bishop told Fairfax Media on Tuesday that the 73-year-old former speaker, who resigned in disgrace last year over her lavish spending on charter helicopter flights, would contest her seat again.

The 72-year-old Mr Ruddock, who is said to be facing a challenge from his own former staffer, Julian Leeser, said he had not yet decided whether to contest the next election.

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Another Liberal MP from NSW said the newly-ascendant Left’s attempt to purge some conservatives from the Parliament was a “real test for Malcolm Turnbull”.

“He has said he is backing the incumbents, we will see if he lives up to that promise.”

with Matthew Knott

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