Australian PM Turnbull fights leadership challenge

24 August, 2018, 02:15 | Author: Lora Ball
  • Australia leadership bid

Dutton claims he has legal advice he is not disqualified, but Attorney General Christian Porter yesterday referred the matter to Solicitor General Stephen Donaghue.

Three senior Cabinet ministers have told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull he doesn't have support and should hold a leadership ballot quickly.

If a sc-called leadership spill motion was then passed, he would not stand in the vote.

Australia's popular foreign minister, Julie Bishop, is manoeuvring herself into position to lead the country as the government struggles to resolve its gravest political crisis in decades.

Turnbull ousted his predecessor, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a Dutton ally, in the same way nearly three years ago.

Turnbull narrowly won a previous internal party ballot against Dutton on Tuesday by 48 votes to 35. It was a major blow to Turnbull's chances of staying in office. His resignation from Parliament would force a byelection that could cost the government its single-seat majority. It is one for those who hate Malcolm Turnbull with an intensity that far exceeds their attitude to any other political leader of the modern era - on any side of politics - except perhaps Julia Gillard. It is arguably the worst debauching of Australian parliamentary democracy since John Kerr refused to see the Speaker to receive the House's no confidence motion in the Fraser Government on November 11, 1975.

Furious opposition lawmakers argued against the motion to adjourn the House of Representatives until September 10.

The opposition argued that the government wanted to avoid question time, a daily period when the prime minister and ministers answer opposition questions for more than an hour.

"It was well known to the government and the Opposition, yet they didn't bring it to the Parliament", he said.

"No government in living memory has said: 'It's all too hard".

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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.

He has said he will quit parliament. The names would provide proof that a majority of his government had abandoned him.

Mr Turnbull is under pressure over poor polling and a push by conservative members of his party to replace him.

After a morning of tumult, Turnbull scheduled a press conference, saying he was prepared to call a party room meeting for midday tomorrow, but this would be conditional on seeing there was majority support for a party meeting.

An image of Peter Dutton's shadowed face that has triggered comparisons with Darth Vader, prompted this from Gillard: "Something tells me that we will be seeing a bit of that photo in the future".

"When I have five Cabinet colleagues telling me that they supported Malcolm on Tuesday ... but they have changed their position, that is not something that I can ignore", he added.

He is yet to publicly respond to the latest threat to his rule, although broadcaster ABC reported that he turned down the demand for another party meeting during the phone call.

Jobs and Innovation Minister Michaelia Cash and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield also resigned from their government and openly backed former Immigration Minister Peter Dutton for the top job. Voters expect that they will get to judge their leaders at the ballot box.

Turnbull also confirmed if he loses the prime ministership, he will resign from the parliament.

Peter Dutton says a former solicitor-general has advised him he is eligible to sit as a member of parliament, putting to rest "spurious and unsubstantiated allegations" about his eligibility.


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