Australia’s Turnbull survives leadership vote; Dutton leaves

PM Malcolm Turnbull attending a Nationals Party Reception at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra

PM Malcolm Turnbull attending a Nationals Party Reception at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra

Mr Abbott deposed Mr Turnbull as leader of the conservative Liberal Party in 2009 over differences in energy policy.

Asked if he'd lost confidence in Turnbull's leadership, Abbott on Monday called for an energy policy the government could take to the election and win. "Hardline conservatives have just told electors in the starkest terms, "don't vote for this man, we know him, he is not one of us, not fit to lead".

Ulhmann said the people he had spoken to indicated they would make a move "sooner rather than later".

A stymied effort to cut corporate taxes, a citizenship crisis that cost a number of lawmakers their seats, and his perceived arrogance as the so-called "Mr. Harborside Mansion" of Sydney have all weighed on Turnbull's popularity with voters.

Under headlines such as "PM's leadership on knife edge" major papers said some government members were gauging support for Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to replace Turnbull.

However, facing backlash from his Coalition government and the threat of a leadership challenge, Turnbull tried to appease critics Friday by proposing setting emissions reduction targets by regulation instead of legislation.

"If Labor support it, they should come out and say so".

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This was an inevitable outcome from Dutton and now means he can now lay out his own policy vision and build support for a second push at the leadership.

Mr Turnbull is believed to have briefed his high-ranking colleagues about the latest adjustments over dinner at the cabinet room in Parliament House on Sunday, after some of them learnt of them through his Facebook page.

Gary Spence, president of the LNP in Queensland, on Monday urged Queensland government MPs to support Dutton over Turnbull, saying that the former was the LNP's best chance of beating the ALP in Queensland.

He headed off a leadership challenge from Minster of Home Affairs Peter Dutton by a margin of 48 votes to 35 in the surprise vote.

Nationals MP Damian Drum has had a gutful of the former prime minister's interventions.

"[Foreign Minister] Julie Bishop was the one person who nominated for that role and she's the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party".

"If my position changes - that is, it gets to a point where I can't accept what the government's proposing or I don't agree - then the Westminster system is very clear: you resign your commission", he told Hadley.

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"He thanked his colleagues for their support", Ms Marino said.

"I think Peter may be taking on a poison chalice here if he takes on the position of PM ..."

He was flanked by Treasurer Scott Morrison and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who both gave him public votes of support. "My job from here ... is to make sure I can prosecute the sort of messages I just spoke about".

However, with the Coalition likely to face a further deterioration in its electoral standing, the mood for change in the Coalition will likely spark another challenge by Dutton that could topple yet another elected leader. "They don't like us being focused on ourselves", he said.

By Tuesday evening, five ministers who voted for Dutton had submitted their resignations, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"It's a complete capitulation to the right-wing members of the Liberal Party of Australia", said Robyn Eckersley, Professor and Head of Political Science at University of Melbourne. "If almost half of his own government do not want him to be the prime minister, why should the rest of Australia have to put up with him?"

Commenting on the day's events, Shorten said: "Australia has a prime minister in name only - without power, without policies". That is what we are going to continue to deliver.

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