Malcolm Turnbull.
Malcolm Turnbull. Wikipedia/Adam Carr

Tony Abbott rejects Turnbull leadership bid claim

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has rejected claims Malcolm Turnbull is manoeuvring to take his job.

On Friday the PM said there was "no foundation whatsoever" in the claims.

While Mr Abbott has been overseas this week, Mr Turnbull clashed with radio host Alan Jones over questions of the Liberal Party leadership.

Mr Turnbull has denied any claims he is manoeuvring behind the scenes, but the radio interview has prompted a tide of speculation about the party leadership.

Mr Abbott, in France for the D-Day anniversary, said criticism "goes with the territory" in politics.

Mr Turnbull, asked on ABC TV whether he believed the Jones interview and criticism of him from columnist Andrew Bolt was "co-ordinated", said some could come to such a conclusion.

Mr Abbott said he continued to regard Mr Turnbull as a "good friend", while Mr Turnbull has said his job remains to defend the government and sell the budget.

But it is the public reaction to the budget, and little movement in government voter support in key polls, which has fuelled the speculation.

Talk has also focussed on a potential reshuffle being considered - which Mr Abbott denied - saying he believed in putting the right person in the right job and "leave them there to get on with it".

The speculation, which seems to arise each time a prime minister leaves the country, has redirected attention from Mr Abbott's trip, as he prepares to meet with United States president Barack Obama in coming days.