Australia PM Malcolm Turnbull clinging on amid fresh leadership challenge threat

24 August, 2018, 02:20 | Author: Salvatore Jensen
  • Australia leadership bid

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reacts during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, August 21, 2018.

Peter Dutton fronted the media just after 8am on Thursday to announce his plans to challenge Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for a second time, believing he has the numbers to win a ballot vote.

Ms Bishop, a former corporate lawyer, who been a loyal supporter of Mr Turnbull, is set to contest the party's first three-way leadership ballot since December 2009.

Finance minister Mr Cormann had publicly supported Mr Turnbull on Wednesday, but on Thursday said Mr Dutton should lead the government.

Public and some internal Liberal polling suggested that this seat, which adjoins Mr Dutton's electorate of Dickson, would swing towards Mr Turnbull and deliver a devastating blow to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Dutton and his supporters, including former prime minister Tony Abbott who once described climate change as "absolute crap", argue that keeping power prices down was more important than meeting Canberra's commitment to slash carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2030.

Senior ministers Mathias Cormann, Mitch Fifield and Michaelia Cash earlier told Mr Turnbull he had lost his government's support and must hold a ballot quickly.

Turnbull did not immediately make a public response.

"Earlier this week in the Nationals party room were discussing how to help farmers, the drought and emergency services workers, while the Liberals were talking about leadership changes", he said.

The upper house Senate rejected the policy on Wednesday and Mr Turnbull said soon after he would no longer pursue it.

Mr Dutton queried why the story came out as he was challenging the prime minister.

Turnbull narrowly won a leadership vote on Tuesday against the former home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, and on Thursday offered to hold a second vote on Friday if he received a letter signed by the majority of the Liberal party.

It's now impossible to see how Mr Turnbull can avoid a special party meeting, as more MPs urged him to bring it on and resolve the issue once and for all.

"Out of respect for my party, I spoke with the deputy PM and my colleagues", he said. Treasurer Scott Morrison will also challenge for the top job.

That eligibility centres on claims Dutton may have breached the Constitution and been ineligible to sit because of his interests in two childcare centres his wife operates and the government subsidies they receive.

In a frantic Thursday morning, Australia's opposition parties lost a parliament vote that would have forced a court to determine whether Dutton is eligible for the premiership.

Turnbull also confirmed if he loses the prime ministership, he will resign from the parliament.

Instead, with Mr Turnbull winning 48-35, it revealed just how close Mr Dutton was to the keys to The Lodge.

"I know I represent and speak for the vast majority in the community who view the Labor and Liberals' treatment of the office of the Prime Minister as a revolving door and this has to stop, because it is overshadowing the work of running the country".

Morrison is hoping to capture votes from moderates who don't want to support Dutton, who is being promoted by so-called conservative MPs.



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