Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Australia's Turnbull survives leadership vote; Dutton leaves

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra Monday Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra Monday
| 24 August, 2018, 03:46

Australian prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull narrowly survived a leadership challenge Tuesday from within his ruling Liberal Party, but now faces a battle of attrition with the right-wing faction that wants him ousted.

Liberal MPs told Fairfax Media they were receiving calls and emails from party members urging them to remove Mr Turnbull, adding to the sense of chaos within the party room while Mr Dutton remained silent in public on the leadership question.

Just yesterday Mr Turnbull said he had Mr Dutton's "absolute support". We can not allow - as I said in the Party Room today - internal issues to undermine our work, to create a risk, a real risk, that Bill Shorten will be the Prime Minister.

MALCOLM Turnbull desperately fights to save his leadership, the biggest threat is coming from one state - Queensland.

Australia's recent political roundabout is highlighted by the fact that it has changed leaders five times since 2007, with none lasting a full term in office.

The Home Affairs Minister is on Monday expected to attend a scheduled Cabinet meeting, which is likely to also touch on the company tax cuts stand-off.

"This has all been around for a week - it's not something we've made up in response to the issues about leadership", she said.

The position of Deputy Leader was also spilled and Julie Bishop was re-elected unopposed.

Choosing to back down on the emissions legislation shows that Mr Turnbull wants to avoid testing his support in a parliamentary vote.

Disunity undermines the ability of a government to get its job done and we can not allow internal issues to undermine our work, or to create a real risk that Bill Shorten will be the prime minister.

Prime Minister, what assurances have you sought from Peter Dutton? Treasurer Scott Morrison will act as home affairs minister.


Another said the Prime Minister's condition was "terminal".

"If the prime minister's own party does not want him, and almost half of his party voted against him remaining prime minister, why should the parliament put up with him?"

After his unsuccessful challenge, Dutton told reporters: "It is good to be in front of the cameras where I can smile and maybe show a different side to what I show when I talk about border protection".

If history is anything to go by, the writing's on the wall for Mr Turnbull.

In a worst-case scenario for Mr Dutton, this may not just keep him out of the top job - it may bar him from parliament altogether.

The stunning retreat emerged as the energy issue threatened to turn into a crisis for Turnbull's leadership, and the government worked on measures to reduce power prices to meet the demands of Coalition dissidents.

"I have been on the frontbench for 14 years and have served four Liberal leaders loyally including Malcolm Turnbull", Mr Dutton said. "Peter Dutton is considering resigning from cabinet and launching a leadership bid", Channel 9's political editor Chris Ulhmann told Today this morning.

While Turnbull shrugged off the leadership tensions, they were brought to a head Tuesday morning Australian time when Turnbull called a leadership poll. "I think he's a very matured, well-managed man and I think he could handle the position of PM very well", she said.

Further pressure will be on Mr Dutton if next week's Newspoll reveals the Government has fallen further and Mr Turnbull's personal approval rating continues to free fall.

'If there are people who are saying behind-the-scenes that is not true, I guess they have to examine their own conscience'.

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