Published: Tue, August 21, 2018
Sci-tech | By Eric Barnett

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

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

The deputy leader's position was also declared vacant with Julie Bishop re-elected unopposed.

"He's told me Malcolm Turnbull has his absolute support", Pyne told the Sunrise host.

Mr Dutton has now resigned from his Home Affairs portfolio, creating a big gap in Cabinet that Mr Turnbull will have to fill.

Dutton has consistently shied away from admitting his desire to take on Turnbull, with Liberal MP Christopher Pyne telling Sunrise host Kochie just hours before the party room voted, that Dutton remained loyal to the Liberal leader.

Mr Dutton, who was the Home Affairs Minister, has now stepped down from that frontbench role.

Moments later, Turnbull emerged victorious, taking 48 votes to Dutton's 35 in the spill contest.

He told Sky News on Monday: 'Peter Dutton is doing a very good job, Malcolm Turnbull is doing a good job, I think people now want this to settle down'.

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Just seven of his Liberal Party colleagues would need to switch to end what is now an unviable leadership internally and by virtue of that, a dishonest product to be put before the electoral market place.

But the result - narrow by historical standards for a first strike against a prime minister - sets the Turnbull government up for further instability and the possibility of another ballot before the next federal election.

Mr Turnbull said he would not proceed with the emissions target - part of his National Energy Guarantee (NEG) - because it had no prospect of passing through the House of Representatives, where he has only a slim majority.

Liberal backbencher Tim Wilson acknowledged the numbers were being counted in the party room.

After losing Dutton, a former police officer who ran a powerful department that oversees the country's domestic spy service, border force and national police, quit and moved to the backbench, broadcaster ABC reported.

The coalition has lagged Labor in 38 successive Newspolls, eight more than Tony Abbott's record.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the prime minister should call an election, if he survives the week.

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