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Crossbenchers refuse to guarantee confidence to a Dutton government

24 August, 2018, 05:11 | Author: Sara Gill
  • Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a news conference at Parliament House in Canberra Australia

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reacts during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Aug 21, 2018.

Mr Turnbull won the party-room vote 48-35 but the narrow margin of the victory made another challenge nearly certain in a country that has earned a reputation for a revolving door of political leaders, with six prime ministers since 2009.

A second spill appears likely on Friday, with Mr Turnbull pledging to call a party room meeting at 12pm if he is presented with a petition showing majority support within the party for a change of leadership.

Mr Dutton, who is bidding to take Malcolm Turnbull's job as prime minister, had published his own legal advice but the besieged Mr Turnbull insisted on official advice from the Solicitor General which was provided on Friday morning.

Mr Turnbull responded by saying: "What we have witnessed at the moment is a very deliberate effort to pull the Liberal Party further to the right".

For the last year, Peter Dutton - a 30-year-old who lives in the American city of Austin - has received messages of support and criticism from Twitter users who have mistaken him for the man hoping to become Australia's next prime minister. But they failed to get the minimum 43 signatures that were required.

"I have never given in to bullies, but you can imagine the pressure it's put people under".

Turnbull said he asked Australia's most senior legal officer to provide advice on Dutton's eligibility.


The government adjourned the lower house on Thursday afternoon, suggesting that Turnbull's priorities lay with handling the latest party mutiny.

"No government in living memory has dissembled so much that they decided the Parliament couldn't meet", opposition lawmaker Tony Burke told Parliament before the motion passed.

Turnbull accused Dutton and his supporters of intimidation with the crisis snowballing quickly since it began unfolding on Monday after months of poor opinion polls and a revolt by fellow Liberal politicians over plans to embed carbon emissions targets in law.

Vanstone, a cabinet minister for the entire almost 12 years of the Howard government revealed part of his genius for running the party's broad church so successfully and it's a warning to the Dutton camp to not swing too far to the right.

The problem of the numbers in the House is an example one of the moving parts that have made this leadership contest the messiest in Australian history.

In addition to Dutton, media reports said other lawmakers were considering running for Turnbull's job, including Treasurer Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Government lawyers are investigating his case to see if there were issues for the High Court to determine.

In a surprise vote of ruling lawmakers Tuesday, Turnbull defeated Dutton in such a ballot by 48 votes to 35.

"On political tactics, no, I wouldn't presume to know enough about the internal things in the Liberal Party to give anybody any advice about what to do next".

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