Australian prime minister could quit Friday

Fredrick Soto
August 24, 2018

Many Liberal MPs openly admit they don't have a clue about who will be the prime minister and leader of their party by early afternoon.

Veterans' Affairs Minister Darren Chester - a National MP and a strong supporter of Mr Turnbull - warned no leadership challenger should assume they will command a majority in the lower house.

All seven had tendered their resignations to Turnbull, who refused them in an attempt to show unity and later said he had been given "unequivocal assurances of continuing loyalty".

Mr Turnbull's warning he will quit Federal Parliament if he loses the election has upset some of his colleagues.

Australia's embattled government moved to adjourn Parliament on Thursday (Aug 23), which would allow its ruling Liberal party to hold a second leadership vote for prime minister.

"This is the ultimate admission of surrender, of a bankrupt government, of a failed government".

Treasurer Scott Morrison will also challenge for the top job in any leadership vote, local media reported earlier.

Turnbull said if he received a letter requesting a fresh vote with the signatures of 43 Liberal Party lawmakers, he would call a party meeting for midday Friday (0200 GMT). It's a secret ballot but the final numbers are made public. The balloting of party members who are not lawmakers takes a month, meaning Australians will never again wake to news that a Labor prime minister had been changed without warning.

The Solicitor-General was dragged into the internal brawl yesterday when Mr Turnbull asked him to rule on whether Mr Dutton has breached Section 44 of the Constitution, banning MPs benefiting from government payments.

Bishop was elected unopposed as the deputy leader of the Liberal Party and said she would be surprised if anyone opposed her going forward. She is pictured here with PM Malcolm Turnbull.

"Not all of them agreed with me but they all understood my reasons", he said.

"In terms of my own intentions", he said.

Turnbull appeared to blame media critics from News Corp and commentators such as Peta Credlin of Sky News, Ray Hadley of 2GB and Alan Jones of 2GB for urging Liberals to turn against him.

Mr Dutton was seen at a Canberra restaurant last night working the phones with, among others, former finance minister Mathias Cormann - a Turnbull loyalist until he tapped Malcolm Turnbull on the shoulder, effectively ending his prime ministership. Whatever happens next - whether we have a Prime Minister Turnbull, Dutton, Morrison or Bishop - we can be certain it will not be sweetness and light among those who find themselves at the "out-group" when the dust begins to settle.

Malcolm Turnbull dug his heels in on Thursday.

The political in-fighting continues in the Liberal party room.

Many in Labor concluded that Rudd should not have been dumped in the first place and the party changed its rules to make ousting a prime minister more hard.

The uneasy unity held sufficiently to secure a narrow election victory in 2016.

"No government in living memory has dissembled so much that they decided the Parliament couldn't meet", opposition lawmaker Tony Burke told Parliament before the motion passed.

"I'm appalled and bitterly disappointed with the events in Parliament House", Chester said.

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