Former Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has emerged victorious from a meeting of the federal Liberal Party, snatching the prime ministership from Tony Abbott.
A meeting of the federal Liberal Party was called for 9.15pm this evening, after Turnbull resigned from the cabinet and called for a leadership ballot this afternoon.
Turnbull won the vote 54 votes to 44 and will now serve as the 29th prime minister of Australia.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was elected deputy leader, 70 votes to 30 for Kevin Andrews.
Small Business Minister Bruce Billson walked into the party room meeting earlier this evening among a group of Abbott’s supporters.
Tonight’s vote follows an earlier spill motion to challenge Tony Abbott’s leadership in February, which Abbott defeated 61 votes to 39.
Responding to the leadership challenge earlier today, small business leaders called for an end to political uncertainty.
“We need certainty and confidence,” Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany.
“It’s an absolute necessity. We’ve been having this go on for years and it just saps people’s energy and confidence. We need certainty – end of story.”
Kate Carnell, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told SmartCompany Australian businesses want serious leadership.
“What we need the Liberal Party to do is to resolve this leadership turmoil once and for all,” Carnell said.
“For business to grow and employ it needs confidence. And confidence has been lacking.”