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Liberals act to halt revolving door of PMs

Former Liberal prime ministers have thrown their weight behind a decision to make it more difficult to oust a sitting PM.

But Malcolm Turnbull has cautioned the party that it still needs to deal with cultural issues which led to him being dumped by conservative insurgents in August.

Liberal MPs met in Canberra on Monday night to approve a new rule requiring a vote of two-thirds of the party room to remove a sitting prime minister.

Labor acted in a similar way after Kevin Rudd deposed Julia Gillard in 2013, but extended a vote to grass-roots party members as well.

Former prime minister John Howard, who once described the Liberal leadership as a gift of the party room, said the changes were sensible given the events of the past five years.

Mr Howard, who was attending the opening of a library in his honour at Old Parliament House, said the changes responded to the public seeking a "reassurance of continuity" and would be widely acclaimed within the Liberal Party.

"They respond to that concern, but they also preserve the authority of the parliamentary party completely when it comes to choosing the leader," he said.

Mr Turnbull welcomed the changes but said only time would tell if they would ensure stability.

"I think people will welcome the prospect of there being less of the revolving door prime ministership. So it's a welcome reform," he told reporters in Sydney.

"There are a lot of cultural issues as well, but I think it's a very good first step."

Mr Turnbull used a speech in Sydney and media conference to take aim at the "insurgency" led by climate sceptics in the party to bring his leadership to an end.

"If you have a group who are prepared to threaten to blow the show up if they don't get what they want, then it becomes very hard to work," he said.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said voters were sick of an insidious "coup culture" within the party that has seen consecutive prime ministers cut down.

"We can't change the past but we can certainly change the future," Senator Cormann told Nine Network.

Arriving at Parliament House on Tuesday, Mr Turnbull's predecessor Tony Abbott was asked whether he wished the rules were in place when he was overthrown.

"That was then, this is now, a very sensible move from the prime minister and he's got my full support," he told reporters.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison accepted that the recent and frequent turnover of prime ministers - on both the Liberal and Labor sides - had frustrated and disappointed Australians.

"They're sick of it and we're sick of it and it has to stop. That's why we've put this rule in place," he said.

Liberal Party federal president Nick Greiner said the new rules would stop arbitrary leadership changes.

"I just think it's common sense," he said.

© AAP 2018