It’s been a tough few days for Malcolm Turnbull, after he held onto leadership of the Liberal Party, and therefore the prime ministership, following an unexpected partyroom ballot on Tuesday morning.
Turnbull emerged victorious, defeating former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton by 48 votes to 35, however the secret ballot was only the start of things to come as in the days since, a large number of Ministers have resigned and Dutton has admitted his intent to launch a second leadership challenge.
Despite refusing to hold another partyroom meeting, as requested by Dutton, on Thursday morning, Turnbull later appeared outside of Parliament House at 1pm on Thursday and admitted he will call another meeting if Dutton is able to present him with a petition signed by a majority of the partyroom, which requires 43 signatures.
A few minutes ago I spoke with Malcolm Turnbull to advise him I believed the majority of the party room no longer supported his leadership. Accordingly, I asked him to convene a party room meeting at which I would challenge for the leadership of the Parliamentary Liberal Party.
— Peter Dutton (@PeterDutton_MP) August 22, 2018
He said: “What is going to happen next, the House has been adjourned at the request of Mr Dutton, so I now await a letter with the signatures of the majority of the partyroom. If I receive that, I will convene a new partyroom meeting. We need to see that there is a majority, it’s important people are accountable.”
Turnbull confirmed that a meeting will be held at midday on Friday, providing he receives that petition, where he will move a spill motion. If passed, Turnbull admitted he would not then stand against Dutton, or anyone else with ambitions for the top job, and would bring an end to his political career.
“In terms of my own intentions,” he said. “When the partyroom meeting is called, I will invite a spill motion to be moved. If it is carried I will not stand as a candidate in the ballot. Those are the events that will unfold over the next few days.”
Making a thinly veiled dig at former PM, and his predecessor, Tony Abbott, he added: “I believe former prime ministers are best out of parliament, I don’t think there’s much evidence to suggest that conclusion is not correct.”