Turnbull survives leadership challenge

Malcolm Turnbull won the vote for the leadership of the Liberal Party over challenger Peter...
Malcolm Turnbull won the vote for the leadership of the Liberal Party over challenger Peter Dutton by 48 votes to 35. Photo: Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has survived a leadership challenge by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, after weeks of speculation and falling opinion poll ratings.

Peter Dutton. Photo: Twitter
Peter Dutton. Photo: Twitter

Turnbull won the vote for the leadership of the Liberal Party, the senior party in the government coalition, over Dutton by 48 votes to 35, chief government whip Nola Marino told reporters today.

"He thanked his colleagues for their support," she said.

Julie Bishop retained the deputy leadership.

Before the vote, opinion polls showed the government was on course for a heavy election defeat in a ballot due next year. 

After Mr Turnbull called the spill, Mr Dutton put his hand up to challenge.

Despite Mr Turnbull's capitulation to energy policy rebels in his ranks, the threat to his leadership did not dissipate.

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne described his Liberal colleagues stoking leadership tensions as "cowards".

 

"I think the public would react very negatively to another change of leadership without them having a vote."

A report in The Australian suggests Mr Turnbull had lost confidence of nine Liberal cabinet ministers - half of the Liberal contingent.

Mr Dutton's camp believes it could get to the 43 votes needed to oust Mr Turnbull, but the prime minister's backers says he still had majority partyroom support.

Fellow MPs from Mr Dutton's home state of Queensland are also understood to have been encouraged to turn on Mr Turnbull.

However, small Business Minister Craig Laundy warned that would go down like a lead balloon.

"If we are fighting amongst ourselves, guess what, when the voters go to the election, they'll mark us down as they should," Mr Laundy said.

"They want us to know that we should be concentrating on the things that are important to them."

Liberal backbencher Tim Wilson acknowledged the numbers were being counted in the party room.

"I don't actually expect a challenge today, but we'll wait and see," he told the ABC on Tuesday.

The coalition has lagged Labor in 38 successive Newspolls, eight more than Tony Abbott's record. However, Mr Turnbull has consistently rated higher than Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister.

 

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the prime minister should call an election, if he survives the week.

"I think that would be a good thing for the nation, because something has to change, this is chaos in the parliament at the moment," Mr Albanese told Sky News.

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