PM tells backbenchers "end it now" to avoid instability
UPDATE: TONY Abbott had two messages this morning: one for the public, the other squarely directed at his party room and any potential leadership challengers.
As pressure mounts on the Prime Minister, he told reporters in Sydney his message to "the Australian people" was
"This is back to work Tuesday", indicating he was focussed on the job at hand, rather than internal party ructions.
But he also sent his party room a blunt message, warning of the "instability" that leadership contests create.
"Instability breeds instability, and if you want to get away from instability, just end it, end it now," he said.
EARLIER: Prime Minister Tony Abbott is staying mum on reports he asked Foreign minister Julie Bishop not to challenge him for the leadership, an offer she reportedly declined.
Sky News reported this morning Mr Abbott made Ms Bishop the offer during a meeting in Sydney on Sunday, but the report has not been independently confirmed.
Asked about the reports this morning, Mr Abbott told Channel Seven dodged the question, instead saying he was "not going to play all these Canberra insider games".
"I think too many people for too long have been playing these Canberra insider games," he said.
Mr Abbott's comments came as he prepares to front his Cabinet this morning in Canberra after rising speculation his time in The Lodge could soon be at an end.
The Cabinet meeting follows Mr Abbott's speech to the National Press Club yesterday, where he effectively rejected the traditional Westminster concept that Australians vote for political parties, rather than the United States model of voting for the leader.
He said on Monday that it was "the people" that hired the Prime Minister and "frankly, it's the people that should fire", despite his future in the leader's role dependent on support in the Liberal Party parliamentary wing.