Could Dutton challenge Turnbull again?
MALCOLM Turnbull has reportedly rejected the resignations of ministers who voted for Peter Dutton in a leadership spill.
A group of ministers offered their resignations to the Prime Minister, but it’s understood Mr Turnbull is not accepting them.
Four members — not including Mr Dutton himself — announced their intention to resign their ministerial positions:
• Minister for International Development and the Pacific Concetta Fierravanti-Wells
• Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar
• Queensland Senator James McGrath
• Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Minister Angus Taylor
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Fierravanti-Wells said she had “concerns that the party was moving too far to the left”, saying “our conservative base strongly feel that their voice has been eroded”.
It is with great regret that this evening I have tendered my resignation as Minister for International Development and the Pacific. Attached is my resignation letter to the Prime Minister. pic.twitter.com/PmqW3tBYEc— C Fierravanti-Wells (@Senator_CFW)
In a Facebook post this evening, Mr McGrath said: “Today the Prime Minister called for a spill of leadership positions in the Liberal Party Room.
“I voted for Peter Dutton for Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party.
“As a matter of integrity, this afternoon I offered my resignation to the Prime Minister.”
It’s worth noting none of these ministers have officially resigned yet — they’ve just offered to.
SURPRISE ROADBLOCK FOR ‘UNELECTABLE’ DUTTON
Nationals frontbencher Darren Chester has raised a surprising obstacle that could block Mr Dutton from claiming the top job.
According to ABC political editor Andrew Probyn, Mr Chester and some of his National Party colleagues believe Peter Dutton is “unelectable” in southern states.
Speaking on ABC News, Probyn said the Victorian MP and up to three other Nationals were willing to sit on the crossbench rather than have Mr Dutton as PM.
“We have a situation where Peter Dutton might snatch the numbers for the Liberal leadership, but not have the confidence of the house to remain prime minister. In a curious way in this context, Malcolm Turnbull’s saviour could be the National Party.”
Probyn suggested the unusual situation could see a third potential candidate push through to seize the leadership.
“In this context you could have a situation where a compromise candidate comes through the middle, someone like Scott Morrison, because he is neither Malcolm Turnbull or Peter Dutton,” he said.
CHRISTIAN PORTER TIPPED TO TAKE OVER
Attorney-General Christian Porter may replace Peter Dutton as Home Affairs Minister, The Australian is reporting.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is also reportedly gunning for the role.
Mr Porter’s job as Attorney-General sees him sitting on the national security committee, which could make him a more logical choice for the role.
Home Affairs is responsible for immigration, border protection and national security, including agencies like ASIO and the Australian Federal Police.
Mr Turnbull announced Treasurer Scott Morrison would stand in as Acting Home Affairs Minister until Mr Dutton was replaced.
BISHOP RULES OUT LEADERSHIP RUN
Amid all the leadership drama, Julie Bishop has ruled out running for the top job.
Appearing on ABC 7.30, the Foreign Minister, who was this morning re-elected as the party’s deputy leader, was asked if she would consider running to offer an alternative to both Mr Turnbull and Mr Dutton.
“Leigh, that’s such a hypothetical. I mean, it’s got so many hypotheticals built into it,” Ms Bishop said. “No. I’ve just been elected as deputy leader of the party. I don’t take that for granted, and I will do my very best to act out that role as deputy in support of the Coalition delivering good government for the Australian people.”
Sales pressed her further, noting that, according to some polls, she would be the party’s only chance of improving their vote.
“Peter Dutton made it clear in April that he wanted to be prime minister,” Ms Bishop responded. “I think that was a signal to colleagues that he wants the job. I’ve got a job. I’m getting on with my job of delivering good government for the people of Australia, and supporting the Turnbull government in doing that.”
PETER DUTTON MOCKED OVER ‘DRINK’ REMARK
Peter Dutton has been mocked mercilessly over his first one-on-one interview since challenging the Prime Minister.
Speaking to Sky News reporter Laura Jayes earlier this afternoon, Mr Dutton tried to give the impression he was just another Super Relatable Aussie Bloke.
In particular, he said he “likes a drink”, “has a self-deprecating sense of humour” and “likes a kid’s footy game on a Saturday or Sunday”.
Clearly, he’s not wrong:
Aussie Twitter — glorious beast that it is — got super roasty:
– Doesn’t get why Jigsaw is considered the villain in the Saw movies.
– Can quote every chapter of American Psycho from memory.
– Thinks we could all do well to a bit more like Negan from The Walking Dead.— PT Ryan (@P_T_RYAN)
— Stuart Fazakerley (@stuartfaz)
Peter likes football, long walks on the beach and torturing refugee children.— Brett (@OsbornBrett)
— Lil Nangs (@Lil_Nangs)
Mr Dutton has refused to rule out another run for the prime ministership.
In the interview, he was asked at least 11 times to confirm or deny whether he would make another push for the top job.
But he dodged giving a direct answer every time.
“My job is to keep Bill Shorten away from government,” Mr Dutton said. “For me, the task is to do whatever I can to make sure the Coalition is successful at the next election.
“You abide by the arithmetic in politics, and the numbers were against me. I respect all my colleagues and want to help them and help the team make sure we can win the next election.”
“But numbers can change. Will push to change those numbers?” pressed Jayes.
“I think we respect the ballot and respect the decision that’s been made,” Mr Dutton replied.
On the 35 members who voted for him, he said he was “very grateful” for their support.
He also refused to say publicly what advice he would offer Mr Turnbull, saying he “doesn’t offer advice over the airwaves”, but acknowledged the pair had a “very cordial conversation” earlier today.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott — who trashed the government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) last week — was among the 35 members who voted for Mr Dutton, according to Sky News.
But Mr Dutton refused to be drawn on the animosity between Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull.
“That’s not my relationship with either of them. I’ve served loyally to both of them. Their issues are between them and nothing to do with me,” he said.
He also dismissed the accusation that he’s Mr Abbott’s “puppet”, and refused to confirm whether he would have put him into his cabinet, saying the question “would have been appropriate if I’d won”.
Finally, when asked why he didn’t stay on as home affairs minister, he said: “I thought it was the honourable thing to do … I’m of the belief that, given I challenged the leader of my party, it was untenable to sit, and for that reason, under the Westminster tradition, I thought it was the right thing for me to do.”
He said being a backbencher would allow him to expand his discussion points, citing the government’s energy policy, as well as immigration and population control, as some of the key issues he wanted to focus on going forward.
SHORTEN MOVES NO CONFIDENCE MOTION ON PM
A motion of no confidence in Malcolm Turnbull has been defeated at 67-76.
Labor leader Bill Shorten sought to move a motion in Parliament earlier today, expressing no confidence in the Prime Minister, saying he “has no authority, no power, and no policies”.
“There are real challenges facing the Australian people which deserve to be heard, which are neglected … under this narcissistic, selfish, self-obsessed government,” the Opposition Leader said.
“The real problem in Australia at the moment is that this Prime Minister is simply not up to the job. The reality is, Prime Minister, you have 35 people behind you who this morning voted not to have you as their leader and I predict that number will get larger.”
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek described Turnbull’s party as “a Frankenstein’s monster of a government”.
“It has the face of the member for Wentworth, the policies of the member for Warringah, and it has the cold, shrivelled soul of the member for Dickson,” she said.
TURNBULL SURVIVES LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE
It follows a tumultuous day for the PM, after he survived a leadership challenge from Peter Dutton, winning a party-room vote 48-35 and forcing his rival to resign from cabinet.
But the battle for the leadership of the party is not over.
Mr Dutton will move from the home affairs minister position he lobbied hard to create to the backbench, where he is likely to continue to agitate for the leadership.
Mr Turnbull declared his top position in the Liberal Party vacant at a party-room meeting this morning, in a shock tactic that saved him but came at a massive cost.
The tight vote means 40 per cent of the Liberal Party do not want Mr Turnbull to continue as leader and has increased the chance of a rushed election before Christmas.
Mr Dutton put his hand up to challenge Mr Turnbull for the top job after the PM’s risky move to take control of the party.
The deputy leadership was also declared vacant, but Julie Bishop was the only person nominated so hung on to her role.
Mr Turnbull offered for Mr Dutton to remain in cabinet and keep his job in home affairs, but he declined the offer.
Mr Dutton visited Mr Turnbull in the ministerial wing of Parliament House shortly before the formal meeting.
Mr Turnbull has reportedly said there would be no early election and he had not considered it.
● Malcolm Turnbull must reshuffle his ministry, with a number of frontbenchers expected to go to the backbench
● The Prime Minister must rebuild bridges with the 35 Liberal MPs who voted against him
● With the corporate tax cuts laws likely to fail in the Senate and the National Energy Guarantee shelved, Turnbull needs a fresh economic agenda
● Peter Dutton’s forces could consolidate and have another crack at the leadership, as has occurred in past spills
● Parliament wraps up for the week on Thursday and does not return until September 10
● The federal election is due by May 2019, but Turnbull may be tempted to call it within weeks in a bid to focus the minds of Liberal MPs, unify the party and ensure no further bloodletting
● The PM heads to South-East Asia next week for trade and security talks
● Labor has led 38 Newspolls in a row, but Turnbull has maintained a strong lead as preferred prime minister.
— with wires