Published: Tue, August 21, 2018
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

U-turns leave Malcolm Turnbull on the ropes and facing coup

U-turns leave Malcolm Turnbull on the ropes and facing coup

Peter Dutton took on his prime minister's challenge and, while unsuccessful, dealt a devastating blow, attracting 35 votes, or 42% of Liberals.

Mr Turnbull defeated Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in a party room ballot in Canberra on Tuesday.

"Even with strong support in the party room, if a small number of people are not prepared to vote with the government on a measure, then it won't get passed", Turnbull told reporters.

With both leadership positions spilled, the foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop's position as deputy Liberal leader was also opened, but she was the only one to nominate and was therefore re-elected.

After the vote, Dutton resigned as Home Affairs Minister, moving to the backbench. It did not include the 22 members of the Nationals.

Despite Mr Turnbull's capitulation to energy policy rebels in his ranks, the expectation his leadership is under threat has grown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the resignation would not have any impact on the issues the government continues to raise across the ditch.

A senior political figure described Mr Turnbull as being in "panic mode" and "clearly rattled" about the amount of support he has lost. Now a backbencher, Mr Dutton is free to openly suggest policy alternatives.

As it happened: Liberal Party Leadership spill results announced.

SBS News understands Labor leader Bill Shorten told colleagues voters were asking "what the hell is going on?"

The disunity came to a head on Monday when Turnbull was forced to shelve plans to embed carbon emissions targets in law after a revolt by fellow Liberal politicians. Mr Turnbull and Mr Dutton are both declining to speak at this time.

Peter Dutton to challenge Malcolm Turnbull.

But the move has failed to silence conservative critics within the Coalition.

The Prime Minister has seen his support crumble in recent days, forcing him to completely ditch his National Energy Guarantee (NEG) in an attempt to appease nervous MPs in his party who want him gone. Abbott told the ABC outside Parliament House on Monday night.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the backflip showed his successor was willing to abandon his core beliefs. "And it was a conversion of convenience this morning".

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