Australia Today

Turnbull Survives Leadership Spill, Peter Dutton Resigns

The Prime Minister ended up calling on the challenge himself, winning by a slim majority.

by Gavin Butler
21 August 2018, 1:00am

Image via Shutterstock

Update 12:52pm: Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that he asked Peter Dutton to remain in the cabinet, but Dutton declined. It has been announced that Scott Morrison will take over the home affairs portfolio.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has knocked back a leadership challenge from Peter Dutton, winning the majority with 48 votes to 35 and forcing the Home Affairs Minister to resign.

Turnbull brought on the spill himself this morning in the face of mounting pressure following his backflip on climate change targets yesterday. Despite his original energy policy—which aimed to deliver cheaper energy and lower emissions—the Prime Minister abandoned the motion when a small handful of MPs threatened to cross the floor and vote against it.

Even a few MPs crossing the floor could see the Government losing control in the House of Representatives, so the Prime Minister announced changes to the energy policy.

Then, at the commencement of a party room meeting this morning, Turnbull voluntary resigned as leader in a power-play attempt to seize control of the situation, force out any dissidents, and prove that he had the numbers in his Party Room—which, ultimately, he did.

Peter Dutton has now announced his resignation from the Cabinet following his failed attack on the leadership, which came less than a day after he affirmed his loyalty to Prime Minister Turnbull. He has moved to the back bench, where he will have more freedom to campaign for the position of Liberal Party leader in the coming weeks.

Turnbull’s victory is not an entirely convincing one, however, as the near vote revealed that almost half the Liberal Party were in support of Peter Dutton taking the leadership. As a litmus test, the spill has demonstrated a profound lack of faith in Turnbull from within his own party room. That is to say nothing of the dissenters among the Nationals, who are already openly challenging the Prime Minister’s decisions.

Turnbull’s controversial move to back out of his energy policy promises yesterday is also certain to have dealt a blow to his base, with many of his moderate supporters likely to have had their faith shaken in his leadership. The Prime Minister will now have to reshuffle his front bench in order to fill the space left by Dutton.

The deputy Leadership was also challenged in the spill, with Julie Bishop’s position being called on for a vote. She was, however, the only nominee.