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Peter Dutton to challenge Turnbull in Liberal leadership spill

21 August 2018

Australia's prime minister on Monday abandoned plans to legislate to limit greenhouse gas emissions to head off a revolt by conservative lawmakers.

Mr Turnbull defeated challenger Peter Dutton 48-35.

Turnbull took the decision to declare the leadership vacancy in order to force his enemies to come out into the open.

"Even with strong support in the party room, if a small number of people are not prepared to vote with the government on a measure, then it won't get passed", Turnbull told reporters.

Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull is facing a leadership crisis with speculation Peter Dutton has the numbers to challenge him for the top job.

It was reported that Mr Dutton, Home Affairs Minister, did not attend the meeting.

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"He (Mr Turnbull) looks like he's in panic mode", a "senior figure" involved in the campaign against the Prime Minister told the newspaper.

Mr Turnbull said he would not proceed with the emissions target - part of his National Energy Guarantee (NEG) - because it had no prospect of passing through the House of Representatives, where he has only a slim majority.

But the bill had support from lawmakers outside Turnbull's center-right Liberal Party, and it appears likely that the leader is caving to pressure from conservative members of his own party, according to the Times. "We've had Rudd to Gillard, Gillard to Rudd, Rudd to Abbott, Abbott to Turnbull", he said.

"He has given me his absolute support", Turnbull said of Dutton.

"What we want to know is, where are this prime minister's convictions?" Another reportedly added: "I think Malcolm Turnbull is terminal and will be very surprised if he is still leader by the end of the year".

Mr Abbott can count on only a handful of supporters in the party room, but the chaos around the Government's energy policy is threatening to spill into a leadership challenge.