Australia Readies For New PM After Malcolm Turnbull Loses Support

Australia Readies For New PM After Malcolm Turnbull Loses Support

Liberal MPs are being courted by all three candidates - Peter Dutton, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Treasurer Scott Morrison.

Senior ministers Mathias Cormann, Mitch Fifield and Michaelia Cash earlier told Mr Turnbull he had lost his government's support and must hold a ballot quickly.

Sources say Ms Bishop won't command almost enough votes to prevail in an open ballot, with even the majority of her WA colleagues - with the exception of Ian Goodenough, Melissa Price, Linda Reynolds and Nola Marino - set to vote against her. WA MPs Steve Irons and Ben Morton are understood to be backing Scott Morrison, with the rest set to fall in behind Mr Dutton.

Even those in Mr Dutton's camp were unwilling to say they had enough votes to force the spill and the Prime Minister has not yet received the letter, which still remains unsighted.

In a thinly-veiled swipe at his predecessor Tony Abbott, Mr Turnbull said history proved sitting on the backbench was not a good option.

Turnbull survived a snap ballot on his leadership on Tuesday, winning the vote 48-35.

Ms Bishop could also appeal to MPs in marginal seats who are at serious risk of being wiped out at the next election under a Dutton government.

His successor will be chosen in a Liberal Party ballot.

Several senior ministers, including a top Turnbull ally, resigned on Thursday morning, an hour after Dutton announced that he had challenged Turnbull to a second leadership contest.

For Dutton it meant he only need to secure another seven votes before he challenged Turnbull again and would this time, with history on his side, win.

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Not a single leader in recent times has succeeded in serving a full three-year term as prime minister.

"I am being pressured - beyond any comprehension - I am being pressured to put my name on that list so it can bring the party room to a meeting", staunch Turnbull supporter Scott Buchholz said on Friday.

His opponents said Thursday they had enough support to oust him, but Australian media reported they did not have enough signatures on the petition.

"Another day and another one of chaos from this government - a government that has effectively stopped governing because it's too busy fighting itself", said deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek.

Another Turnbull supporter, Darren Chester, apologised to voters and said they "deserve better than numerous things our Federal Parliament has served up in the past 10 years".

The ABC understands the Solicitor-General, Stephen Donaghue QC, has "all but cleared" Mr Dutton.

A NEW poll shows WA MP Julie Bishop would easily be the people's choice as Prime Minister to Labor leader Bill Shorten.

The prime minister had hoped the first ballot, called by himself, would end speculation his government had lost faith in him after poor opinion polling and a by-election defeat in Queensland.

Questions have been raised over Mr Dutton's financial interests in childcare centres, which receive a direct subsidy from the federal government, potentially in breach of section 44 of the constitution.

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