Aussie PM holds on for now amid leadership crisis

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he won't stand for the Liberal leadership again if an expected party room meeting on Friday agrees to spill the leadership.

But Liberal MPs need to first see the advice from the solicitor-general on the eligibility of challenger Peter Dutton to sit in the parliament, in the wake of reports he could be in breach of the constitution.

Mr Turnbull also wants to see the letter purportedly signed by 43 Liberal MPs calling for the meeting.

He's slated that meeting for midday on Friday.

"Australians will be rightly appalled by what they're witnessing in their nation's parliament today and in the course of this week," Mr Turnbull said in Canberra on Thursday.

Malcolm Turnbull. Photo Reuters
Malcolm Turnbull. Photo Reuters

It was important Mr Dutton's eligibility to be in parliament was clarified, he said.

The former Home Affairs minister has his own legal advice that his interest in childcare centres - which receive a funding stream from the federal government - does not breach section 44 of the constitution.

This bans from parliament anyone who has "any direct or indirect pecuniary interest with the public service of the commonwealth".

"This is a very, very significant point," Mr Turnbull said.

"I cannot underline too much how important it is that anyone who seeks to be prime minister of Australia is eligible to be a member of parliament."

The government's legal advice is expected to be ready early Friday.

Mr Turnbull said the public would be "crying out for an election" once the dust settled.

He said a "form of madness" had taken over those agitating for a leadership change.

Mr Turnbull will retire from parliament if the spill motion goes ahead.

He declined to endorse a successor amid reports Treasurer Scott Morrison will also seek the leadership in the event of a ballot.

This comes after Australia's House of Representatives has been adjourned by the government amid a battle over the Liberal leadership, with Bill Shorten arguing the coalition is "irreparably split" and should hang their heads in shame.

Malcolm Turnbull has been told he no longer has majority support in the Liberal party room, with Peter Dutton expected to win a ballot once a meeting can be convened.

So far 13 ministers have resigned, stepping up pressure on the prime minister to quit.

Mr Shorten said adjourning the lower house was a clear admission of failure and the coalition should hang their heads in shame.

"The government may adjourn the parliament, but they cannot outrun the weight of failure of this government," he said.

"This is the ultimate admission of surrender, of a bankrupt government, of a failed government."

"If anyone needs to depart from this place, it is not the parliament, it is this government of Australia who has lost the confidence not just of its own backbench, not just of the opposition, you've lost the confidence of everyday Australians.

"Shame on you."

Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke also ripped into the "extraordinary" development.

"What is happening right now is the government have decided this place has fallen apart so completely that they are dissolving the parliament for the day entirely," he told the lower house on Thursday.

Mr Burke said the coalition government was completely self-obsessed and had no regard for Australian voters.

"There will be no question time today because they don't know who their ministers are ... they don't know who their prime minister is," he thundered across the chamber.

"There will be no question time today because those opposite have stopped governing.

"If there was ever a government that had questions to answer, it's this mob."

The government has not sought to adjourn the Senate.

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