Australia’s opposition Labor sitting pretty as PM’s leadership appears doomed

Australia’s opposition Labor sitting pretty as PM’s leadership appears doomed

Some government politicians want Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, a close ally of Mr Abbott, to challenge Mr Turnbull's leadership.

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dumped the carbon emissions reduction target from his National Energy Guarantee (NEG) policy, as it doesn't have enough support to get through the House of Representatives.

However, the Prime Minister looks unlikely to be able to hang on long after 35 members of his party turned against him. "We have now moved nearly 400 people off Manus Island and Nauru and that is a significant achievement", he said.

Former Labor minister Graham Richardson was even blunter writing in The Australian today, calling Mr Turnbull "a dead man walking".

Dutton, a conservative who has the support of the powerful right wing of the Liberal Party, resigned from the Cabinet after losing the vote, Turnbull said.

Mr Dutton ran through his CV to underline his capacity for the prime ministership, throwing in a John Howard reference to boost his conservative credentials.

Up the corridor, Keating, the loser, hosted a raucous celebration, champagne corks flying and cheering supporters cramming the office, some of them dancing on desks.

This was an inevitable outcome from Dutton and now means he can now lay out his own policy vision and build support for a second push at the leadership.

Mr Dutton, now a backbencher, offered reporters a tortured reasoning that it wasn't Mr Turnbull he wanted to block but Labor's Bill Shorten.

"There's no doubt that when one major party is tearing itself apart over leadership and that major party happens to be the party of government, the other major party in opposition benefits", said Nick Economou, senior lecturer in politics at Monash University in Melbourne.

Another said the Prime Minister's condition was "terminal".

Julie Bishop reclaimed her position as deputy leader after running unopposed for her role.

The Australian says nine of Mr Turnbull's 18 Liberal cabinet colleagues have lost confidence in him, and the Prime Minister spent last night ringing MPs to shore up support. "It's not about him, it's not about me".

Dutton did not rule out another challenge as he thanked his colleagues for their support.

"I think Peter may be taking on a poison chalice here if he takes on the position of PM ..." We can not allow - as I said in the Party Room today - internal issues to undermine our work, to create a risk, a real risk, that Bill Shorten will be the Prime Minister.

Constitutional law experts say the Home Affairs Minister could be disqualified from parliament over his business interests, Ten Eyewitness News reported.

Backers of likely leadership challenger Peter Dutton, the conservatives' standard-bearer, insist his support levels are building rapidly.

'If we are fighting amongst ourselves, guess what, when the voters go to the election, they'll mark us down as they should, ' Mr Laundy said.

Turnbull's reversal and the political hullabaloo come amid a growing debate about climate change in Australia.

Labor leader Bill Shorten claimed the PM was "a Prime Minister in name only", adding: "If almost half of his own government do not want him to be the Prime Minister of Australia, why should the rest of Australia have to put up with him?"

His comments were seen as a clear indication he wants to broaden his appeal in the electorate beyond just being known as Australia's immigration strongman.

Frydenberg said voters were exhausted of governments repeatedly changing their prime ministers.

"I don't believe so, and the reason for that is we're getting on with the job and just announced another big change in terms of going forward with the ACCC", Mr Morrison responded.

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