Australian PM survives leadership challenge
Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian prime minister, has survived a leadership challenge that could have led to a sixth change in less than 11 years.
Mr Turnbull was challenged by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton after he declared the leadership of the government vacant yesterday.
In a Liberal Party room meeting, the prime minister succeeded in a leadership ballot, winning 48 votes to Mr Dutton's 35.
Mr Dutton resigned from his cabinet role after the defeat.
The move came amid a backbench uprising as opinion polls showed the government on course for a heavy defeat by the opposition Labour party in an election due next year.
Mr Turnbull called on his government to unite or risk defeat at the next election.
"United we will maintain the strong momentum and the great achievements our government has made," the prime minister said in Canberra.
The disunity came to a head on Monday when Mr Turnbull was forced to shelve plans to embed carbon emissions targets in law.
Mr Turnbull's position remained in jeopardy despite surviving Dutton's leadership challenge.
"We've seen it so often in Australian politics - this two-stage act play in removing a prime minister - and, given how close the vote was, there's definitely more to come," said Haydon Manning, a political science professor at Flinders University in South Australia state.
Australia has gone through an extraordinary period of political instability since Prime Minister John Howard lost power in 2007 after more than 11 years in office.
Mr Turnbull will next month become Australia's longest serving prime minister since Howard, having held the office for three years and four days.
Labour prime minister Kevin Rudd was ousted by his deputy Julia Gillard in 2010. He later returned the favour and stormed back to power in 2013 shortly before losing the election to Tony Abbott's Liberal/National coalition. Mr Abbott was then unseated in a party coup by Mr Turnbull in 2015.
Mr Abbott is now a vocal backbencher and is widely seen as a key instigator of the move against the prime minister this week, which has left Mr Turnbull heading a party where 35 people do not want him as leader.
Damian Drum, a lawmaker in The Nationals' party, a junior coalition partner, called on Mr Abbott to resign from Parliament.
"He vowed that he wouldn't be a wrecker," Mr Drum said. "That's exactly what he's been - he needs to get out of the joint."