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Malcolm Turnbull: PM loses ministers in leadership battle

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull


Malcolm Turnbull rubs his eye

Ten government ministers in Australia have offered to resign following a failed bid to oust Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as party leader.


Mr. Turnbull narrowly survived a vote against a senior government colleague on Tuesday, but is now likely to face a second leadership challenge.

He has accepted the resignation of only two ministers including the challenger, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

The division in the ruling party has thrown national politics into upheaval.

The prime minister has been under pressure following a by-election loss in Queensland and poor results in polls.

Australia is due to hold its next election before May next year.

The opposition Labour party has accused the government of being in “chaos.”

Mr. Dutton has said he is still actively campaigning for the leadership and has lobbied other MPs for their support in a second vote.

“You do not go into a ballot believing that you can lose and if I believe that a majority of colleagues supports me then I would consider my position,” he was quoted as saying.

Mr. Turnbull initiated the first vote among cabinet members on Tuesday in an attempt to end growing speculation about his position as leader of the Liberal party.

He won by a margin of just 13 votes.

“The iron laws of arithmetic confirmed my leadership,” he told reporters on Wednesday when asked about his future.

He has also abandoned a policy to set an emissions reduction target in law, in an attempt to ward off party conflict.

Mr. Turnbull confirmed he had asked eight ministers to stay on in his ministry despite their offers to stand down.

Along with Mr. Dutton’s resignation, he also let go the International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Turnbull said: “What I’m endeavouring to do is to obviously ensure that the party is stable, to maintain the stability of the government of Australia.”

Many Australians online have responded to the battle in Canberra with a sense of frustration and dismay.

The Labour opposition, which tried to move a motion of no confidence against the prime minister in parliament on Tuesday, has called the situation chaotic.

“While chaos reigns, the country is not governed,” Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said.


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