Liberal spill: Peter Dutton claims to have numbers to topple Malcolm Turnbull

George McgeeAug 24, 2018

So before we get into the complexities of sorting out exactly what a change in Prime Minister could mean for Australia, let's bring it back to basics and figure out the who's-who in the Australian Survivor Parliament right now.

A News Corp Australia poll showed Bishop is the preferred leader for the party with 34 per cent of votes, followed by Turnbull at 30 per cent, Tony Abbott at 17 per cent and Peter Dutton at 10 per cent.

Former minister Peter Dutton has told Turnbull that he wants lawmakers in the ruling conservative Liberal Party to elect a new prime minister on Thursday.

Turnbull said if he received the letter requesting a fresh vote, he would call a party meeting for midday on Friday (9am, Bangkok).

"I am announcing today, that if there is another leadership spill for the position of Prime Minister prior to the next federal election, I will remove myself from the government benches and sit on the cross benches".

Mr Turnbull is unlikely to contest a second leadership ballot, Australian media reported on Thursday, making way for Treasurer Scott Morrison as a surprise challenger for the top job.

Senator Cormann, a powerbroker and kingmaker, sealed Malcolm Turnbull's fate, revealing that: "The reason we came to that view is because of the number of colleagues who came forward, who supported Malcolm in the leadership ballot on Tuesday, who indicated to us that they had changed their position".

"I do not condone what the Labor and Liberal Party is doing with the office of Prime Minister and I understand people's cynicism because of this revolving door issue", he said.

Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison during a division on Thursday.

"I've got to get on with what I've been asked to do, that's being the deputy leader of the Liberal Party".

"I'm speaking to colleagues", Mr Dutton told 3AW Radio.

"I can not underline too much how important it is that anyone who seeks to be prime minister of Australia is eligible to be a member of parliament".

The Prime Minister has refused to lay down over the challenge to his leadership.

If Mr Turnbull is ousted, he would become the fourth leader in just a decade to have suffered a party coup within their first term.

Mr Dutton is also facing a Senate inquiry over his 2015 decision to give visas to two au pairs with Labor referring allegations concerning the inappropriate exercise of ministerial powers to a committee.

UPDATE, 7.30am: "TREATING the office of Prime Minister as a revolving door is demeaning to the democratic system".

Opposition lawmakers reacted with outrage when the government shut down Parliament hours early so that Liberal Party lawmakers could focus on their leadership crisis.

In a key development on Thursday, cabinet ministers Mathias Cormann, Mitch Fifield and Michaelia Cash told reporters that they had withdrawn their support for Mr Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull said the public would be "crying out for an election" once the dust settled, after a "form of madness" took over in the party room.

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

The names would provide proof that a majority of his government had abandoned him.

It was important Mr Dutton's eligibility to be in parliament was clarified, he said.

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