Malcolm Turnbull Declares Leadership Vacant

Greg Lawrence
August 21, 2018

Malcolm Turnbull has beaten Peter Dutton 48-35 in a snap Liberal leadership spill.

After his abortive attempt to snatch the leadership of the Liberal Party, it was pretty clear that Peter Dutton's position in Malcolm Turnbull's cabinet was, shall we say, untenable.

Supporters of Mr Dutton believe the required 43 votes need to topple Mr Turnbull can be found, however the prime minister appears to still believe he has the numbers.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce yesterday backed Mr Turnbull to remain as leader and welcomed the Government's changes on the contentious energy policy.

He's made good on that nearly immediately after the failed coup and resigned from his position as Minister for Home Affairs.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mr Turnbull was paying the price for making policy on the fly.

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

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Dutton put his hand up to challenge Turnbull for the top job after the PM's risky move to take control of the party.

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

"The result of that ballot was Malcolm Turnbull was elected leader of the Liberal Party by a margin of 48-35, with Peter Dutton as the other candidate", she said.

It follows the prime minister's major backdown on his National Energy Guarantee on Monday, removing climate change targets from the planned legislation.

"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.

However, Mr Turnbull has consistently rated higher than Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister.

Dutton - an nearly unknown figure in the wider electorate - is poised to take over. He later returned the favour and stormed back to power in 2013 shortly before losing the election to Tony Abbott's Liberal/National coalition. Mr Abbott told reporters outside Parliament House on Monday evening.

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