Turnbull remains Liberal leader, holding off challenge from Peter Dutton

Cesar Mills
August 21, 2018

The PM won the ballot vote 48 to 35, surviving a challenge from Peter Dutton.

The contest came suddenly during a closed-door Liberal partyroom meeting when Mr Turnbull declared the leadership positions vacant, forcing challengers to declare their intentions.

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said earlier Mr Dutton had told him the prime minister has his absolute support.

The coalition has lagged Labor in 38 successive Newspolls, eight more than Tony Abbott's record.

The change would have followed on from a string of changes at the top of Aussie politics, which began when Julia Gillard ousted Kevin Rudd as leader of the Labor party in 2010. The next election is due by 2019. "I will support what the government does, I will support what Malcolm does".

Turnbull would next month become Australia's longest serving prime minister since Howard, having held the office for three years and four days.

A senior political figure described Mr Turnbull as being in "panic mode" and "clearly rattled" about the amount of support he has lost.

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Mr Dutton has now resigned his powerful position as Home Affairs minister and will move to the backbench, in keeping with the tradition of cabinet solidarity.

Gary Spence, LNP president in Queensland, urged federal MPs to replace Mr Turnbull with Mr Dutton, arguing he would do better at defending the Coalition's nine marginal seats in the state.

Chief government whip Nola Marino announced the close margin at the tense party room meeting which has been labelled a "humiliation" for Turnbull with a frontbench who does not support him.

While the challenge over the prime ministership was ostensibly about energy policy, the true source of the leadership tensions goes much deeper.

"We are not going to propose legislation purely for the objective of it being defeated", he said.

He told Sky News on Monday: 'Peter Dutton is doing a very good job, Malcolm Turnbull is doing a good job, I think people now want this to settle down'.

Other reports by GizPress

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