Published: Tue, August 21, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Dutton resigns from frontbench after losing leadership challenge

Dutton resigns from frontbench after losing leadership challenge

Embattled Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull survived a leadership challenge from within his own party on Tuesday (Aug 21) as discontent with his rule boiled over less than a year before national elections.

"There was also an election for the deputy leader".

Turnbull's move may relieve immediate pressure on his leadership, though internal peace is seen as fragile as the government's re-election prospects look dim.

"Turnbull is desperately hanging on to his leadership above and beyond everything else".

The change would have followed on from a string of changes at the top of Aussie politics, which began when Julia Gillard ousted Kevin Rudd as leader of the Labor party in 2010.

A senior political figure described Mr Turnbull as being in "panic mode" and "clearly rattled" about the amount of support he has lost.

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

The vote comes a day after Ten News revealed a possible section 44 constitutional cloud over Dutton's business interests which could make him ineligible to sit in parliament.

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Mr Dutton resigned from Cabinet after the vote and will move to the backbench, triggering a ministerial reshuffle.

But Treasurer Scott Morrison said was "fully supportive" of the Prime Minister.

Malcolm Turnbull staged a second U-turn over climate change in three days yesterday, aimed at saving his job as his Liberal Party slid further behind in the polls.

Mr Dutton attended a leadership meeting with Mr Turnbull earlier on Tuesday.

Conservatives in his coalition were reportedly sounding out colleagues for a possible leadership challenge before Turnbull on Monday announced the removal of emission reduction targets from the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) policy.

"We're for lower prices, Mr Shorten is for higher prices", he said.

"That is what people are telling me and that is what the government wants to do", he said.

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