Turnbull defeats Dutton in snap leadership ballot

UPDATED | Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he is getting on with business, after defeating Peter Dutton 48-35 in a leadership ballot today.

Aug 21, 2018, updated Aug 27, 2018
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arrives for a party room meeting at Parliament House today. Photo: AAP/Lukas Coch

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arrives for a party room meeting at Parliament House today. Photo: AAP/Lukas Coch

Turnbull says Australians expect the government to focus on them, not internal party issues.

He won a Liberal leadership challenge from his Home Affairs Minister Dutton 48 votes to 35 this morning.

“What they don’t like is being focused on ourselves or talking about each other,” the prime minister told reporters alongside his deputy leader Julie Bishop.

“That is why it is very important that today the Liberal party room has confirmed our leadership of the party – a reminder for parties and governments to be united and determined to keep delivering for the people for whom they work.”

Dutton has resigned from the cabinet, leaving Turnbull to consider a ministerial reshuffle.

Turnbull thanked the minister for his “outstanding” work as Home Affairs Minister, revealing he had invited Dutton to remain in cabinet.

“He said to me that he doesn’t feel he can remain in the cabinet having challenged me to the leadership of the party,” Turnbull said.

Treasurer Scott Morrison will be acting Home Affairs Minister for now, with a ministry reshuffle to come.

Some Liberal MPs believe Dutton’s failed challenge is only the beginning of the end of Turnbull’s prime ministership, and there may be another leadership ballot later this week.

“What I say to all those who didn’t vote for the prime minister, we now have the opportunity to focus on what the electorate wants to hear from us,” Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop said.

The foreign minister faced no challenger to her position at Tuesday’s meeting.

Turnbull had called the spill after a week of leadership speculation sparked by Liberals angry with his National Energy Guarantee.

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The prime minister caved in to their demands to remove the Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets from the legislation, but it still wasn’t enough.

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

Turnbull won the vote, but the narrow victory leaves him vulnerable to another challenge ahead of the next election.

Outspoken conservative backbencher Craig Kelly said he had “no idea” if there would be another challenge on Thursday.

“This morning came out of the blue, this is a moving feast, but let’s see,” he told reporters.

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

Shorten said Turnbull had “looked into the abyss”.

“I don’t know how he can pretend he’s running the country when every backbencher has as much power as he does,” he told the Labor caucus.


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