Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has barely survived a snap leadership challenge from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton during a Liberal party room meeting this morning, with members voting 48-35 to keep Turnbull on as the party leader.
Rumours of a challenge began to brew over the weekend and came to the fore yesterday after Turnbull capitulated to conservative members of the party over emissions targets in the government’s landmark National Energy Guarantee. At the same time, Turnbull was reported to have changed his position on company tax cuts for big businesses, further upsetting the party’s right.
The Prime Minister called the challenge himself this morning, reports the Guardian, and narrowly eked out a win, claiming 48 of the 43 votes he needed to retain the leadership.
However, the challenge has laid bare the rifts within the Coalition, and many political commentators expect another leadership challenge will follow, which Turnbull may not win.
Very thin numbers for the PM. History tells us when it’s that close then its all over very quickly. Especially with ministers shifting.
— Barrie Cassidy (@barriecassidy) August 20, 2018
Expect a 2nd leadership ballot very quickly. Dutton came within 7 votes of victory without any chance to lobby officially. Presumably Dutton will seek to play to his conservative strengths. If so, we'll likely see a full-on campaign around national security & immigration.
— Karen Middleton (@KarenMMiddleton) August 21, 2018
As is customary, Dutton is now expected to resign from Cabinet, which would prompt a Cabinet reshuffle. However, reports suggest Turnbull offered Dutton the option to stay on as Home Affairs Minister, despite challenging him for the leadership.
Questions are also now being raised as to whether Turnbull will call a snap election, with Labor reportedly ramping up preparations for an early federal election.
Meanwhile, small business policy continues to be left in the dust, with key pieces of SME-specific tax legislation lying dormant in Parliament, and unlikely to be debated until mid-September.
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