Published: Fri, August 24, 2018
Money | By Hannah Jacobs

Australian PM Turnbull fights leadership challenge

Australian PM Turnbull fights leadership challenge

If the petition arrives showing this, the meeting will be held at midday on Friday and Turnbull will not stand as a candidate and leave parliament.

"I'm very confident we will have a party room meeting today", Mathias Cormann, formerly a key Turnbull backer who changed his support to Dutton and resigned as Finance Minister on Thursday, told Sky News.

Turnbull would then become the fourth prime minister to be dumped by his or her own party before serving a full three-year term in an extraordinary era of political instability that began in 2010.

Former home affairs minister Peter Dutton on the backbench in question time on Wednesday.

Adding pressure on rebel lawmakers, Turnbull said he would resign from parliament if he lost the leadership, threatening the government's one-seat majority.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a news conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia August 21, 2018.

The clarification strengthens his case to lead the Liberal Party.

And it has played into the hands of the Labor opposition, which has been making the most of the turmoil.

Expectations that Turnbull would soon face another challenge, possibly within days, were stoked when eight Cabinet ministers backed Dutton.

If that meeting calls for a leadership ballot, he will quit Parliament.

To put it simply the conservatives slammed the National Energy Guarantee as insufficient to lower power bills, leading Turnbull to go from proposing an energy reduction target of 26 percent to just scrapping the plan altogether in order to save his leadership.

"Another day and another one of chaos from this government - a government that has effectively stopped governing because it's too busy fighting itself", said deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek.

As the Liberal leadership crisis unfolded in Canberra, a special Snap SMS Morgan Poll of more than 2000 voters showed Ms Bishop (64 per cent) ahead of Mr Shorten (36 per cent).

However, Dutton told Turnbull it was clear he had now lost the support from a majority of party members. "But I can't ignore reality". I'm not aware of anyone changing their vote. The next scheduled party meeting is September 11.

Treasurer Scott Morrison also pledged to challenge for the top job, local media reported. Foreign governments are left wondering whether Australian leaders will be around long enough to fulfil bilateral agreements.

Cormann voted for the more moderate Turnbull in Tuesday's internal vote but is also a close friend of Dutton. If and when Turnbull does receive those 43 signatures, he's already announced he'll step aside.

The vote to refer Dutton to Australia's High Court was narrowly defeated in the House of Representatives by 69 votes to 68.

Solicitor-General Stephen Donoghue provided the advice to the Prime Minister and Peter Dutton on Friday morning.

Donaghue said Dutton's case was impossible to predict because the facts are "unlike those that have previously been assessed" by the high court and there is "significant division" on the court about section 44 (v).

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