Two days after trying and failing to seize leadership of the Liberal Party, former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has called for a second spill.
“A few minutes ago I spoke with Malcolm Turnbull to advise him I believed the majority of the party room no longer supported his leadership,” he wrote on Twitter this morning. “Accordingly, I asked him to convene a party room meeting at which I would challenge for the leadership of the Parliamentary Liberal Party.”
This follows the circulation of a petition among Dutton’s supporters on Wednesday night, attempting to force another party room meeting. That push was ultimately rebuffed, with Turnbull demanding to see evidence of a sufficient number of signatures on the petition before acquiescing to its demands.
It is thought that Dutton would need a total of 43 signatures to force a party room meeting and, in turn, a second ballot for the leadership. He is, however, yet to reveal how many he’s actually received. Until then, Turnbull’s camp are digging in their heels.
Kevin Andrews, a firm Dutton supporter, confirmed that he has signed the petition along with several of his colleagues. Andrews claimed that only two further signatures were needed to force the party room meeting. Mathias Corman, Michaelia Cash, and Mitch Fifield have also tendered their resignations, saying that they believed it was in the best interests of the party to transition to a new leader. This could be a devastating blow to Turnbull's base.
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, meanwhile, has called into question Dutton’s character and fitness for leadership by bringing attention to the fact that he walked out on Rudd’s apology to the stolen generation in 2008. Nationals MP Kevin Hogan has warned that if there is another leadership spill he’ll leave the Coalition and sit on the crossbench.
Others, such as Nationals MP Michelle Landry, are accusing Tony Abbott and friends of pulling the strings on Dutton’s campaign against Turnbull. Landry suggested that the ongoing challenge to the Liberal Party leadership is revenge for Abbott having lost the prime ministership in 2015.