Australian prime minister wins leadership challenge

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

MALCOLM Turnbull is steeling himself for the next assault, with Peter Dutton thought to be preparing for a second challenge on the leadership.

Malcolm Turnbull has defeated home affairs minister Peter Dutton in a leadership ballot, but the danger isn't over yet for the prime minister.

In the hours that followed, social media lit up with calls to #PutOutYourPotatoes in celebration of Mr Dutton's fizzled attempt to oust the Prime Minister.

Liberal members see Turnbull as "the best Labor leader the Liberals ever had", criticizing his push for same-sex marriage, his support for an Australian republic, and other causes favored by Labor and other left-wing parties.

"Unlike too many of my colleagues, my practice is take responsibility for what I think and say", Mr Abbott said.

On November 25, 2009, the punchy conservative Kevin Andrews declared he wished to challenge Turnbull for the leadership.

A by-election in Wentworth would also complicate matters in any change of leader.

And some will seem unusual: "I worked closely with Malcolm Turnbull to make sure we can achieve that".

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There was also a vote on the deputy leadership but Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was the only candidate, despite speculation that Health Minister Greg Hunt had his eyes on the post.

Speaking outside of Parliament House in Canberra, following the vote, Turnbull urged his colleagues to show "unity".

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.

Prime minister (for now) Malcolm Turnbull. Treasurer Scott Morrison would act as interim home affairs minister, Turnbull said. He refused, however, to rule out another challenge.

Commenting on the day's events, Shorten said: "Australia has a prime minister in name only - without power, without policies".

Some political commentators believe that Dutton, buoyed by his strong showing, could challenge Turnbull again within days, especially if there is a mass exodus from the Cabinet. "They can't just be demanded", Mr Abbott told 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.

He said: "Australians expect us to be focused on them and talking about their issues, they don't like us to be focused on ourselves".

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John Hewson, a former leader of the Liberal party who is now with the Australian National University's school of public policy, said Turnbull was wounded and another challenge was likely within weeks.

The stunning retreat emerged as the energy issue threatened to turn into a crisis for Turnbull's leadership, and the government worked on measures to reduce power prices to meet the demands of Coalition dissidents.

Mr Dutton represents Dickson, a marginal seat in the south east.

Needing Labor's support to get the NEG over the line would be unacceptable to many Coalition MPs.

The Nationals were furious when they found out about the NEG changes from news sources and Mr Turnbull in a room full of lobbyists.

'If there are people who are saying behind-the-scenes that is not true, I guess they have to examine their own conscience'.

"Definitely had enough of this, I think that it's bad for the stability of the nation", said law student Renata Labio.

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