Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull survives leadership vote, but threat still remains

Tuesday, 21 Aug, 2018

Mr Dutton attended Mr Turnbull's office on Tuesday morning, shortly before the prime minister made the leadership announcement.

"[Foreign Minister] Julie Bishop was the one person who nominated for that role and she's the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party".

However the ABC understands that despite Mr Dutton challenging him for the leadership, Mr Turnbull later offered his rival the chance to stay on.

The challenge came after Mr Turnbull called a spill, with Mr Dutton putting his hand up to challenge.

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

"He has given me his absolute support", Turnbull said of Dutton.

"I'm certain he is telling the truth", he told the Nine Network.

Abbott deposed Turnbull as leader of the conservative Liberal Party in 2009 over differences in energy policy.

"I think people would be horrified if the government changed leader again".

Australia has gone through an extraordinary period of political instability since Prime Minister John Howard lost power in 2007 after more than 11 years in office.

The vote this morning confirms Mr Dutton has the backing of a significant group in the party room - mostly conservatives - to replace Mr Turnbull as PM.

"In politics you have to focus on what you can deliver", Mr Turnbull told reporters on Monday.

Small Business Minister Craig Laundy warns that would go down like a lead balloon. "They want us to back the prime minister we have got and carry on", Mr Chester said.

Liberal backbenchers have no illusions about the prospects for peace in their party room.

It took two unsuccessful challenges for Kevin Rudd to re-take the prime ministership from Julia Gillard in February 2012 and March 2013, before Rudd finally won in June 2013.

Some lawmakers including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott argue the government should be focusing on cutting electricity prices instead of cutting emissions. Disunity undermines the ability of a government to get its job done and we can not allow internal issues to undermine our work, or to create a real risk that Bill Shorten will be the prime minister.

But Treasurer Scott Morrison said was "fully supportive" of the Prime Minister.