Australian prime minister declares leadership open: spokesman

Australian prime minister declares leadership open: spokesman

Mr Turnbull confirmed Peter Dutton had quit as Home Affairs Minister in the wake of the leadership ballot, saying Treasurer Scott Morrison would act as head of the portfolio until a reshuffle could be arranged.

Dutton, a conservative who has the support of the powerful right wing of the Liberal Party, resigned from the Cabinet after losing the vote, Turnbull said.

Mr Turnbull rejected suggestions from supporters of leadership rival Peter Dutton that he was a "dead man walking".

Mr Turnbull's narrow victory leaves him vulnerable to another challenge before the next election.

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party Julie Bishop also spoke briefly, having successfully retained her position after no one contested her for the role.

"Voters will do what they always do they react very badly to internal tensions, to disunity", Mr. Economou said.

Mr. Frydenberg said voters were exhausted of governments repeatedly changing their prime ministers.

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"There is a high transaction cost from changing leaders".

"I don't actually expect a challenge today, but we'll wait and see", he told the ABC on Tuesday.

"I worked closely with Malcolm Turnbull to make sure we can achieve that".

Mr Turnbull held a cabinet meeting on Monday night to seal the new approach to energy, withdrawing a government bill to set emission targets in law because it would not be able to get a majority in Parliament.

Mr Dutton thanked the back-bench colleagues who backed his leadership challenge, and defended his controversial record as Home Affairs Minister.

"If the prime minister's own party does not want him, and almost half of his party voted against him remaining prime minister, why should the parliament put up with him?"

"In politics you have to focus on what you can deliver", Mr Turnbull told reporters on Monday.

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"It was a conversion of convenience this morning", Mr. Abbott added.

Damian Drum, a lawmaker in The Nationals' party, a junior coalition partner, called on Abbott to resign from Parliament instead of destabilising the government.

Drum told the room that the leaking against the government and the constant division was a "f--ing disgrace" and he called on those who briefed against the government to reflect on their behaviour.

"We need to invest more in water to get farmers out of drought so they do not go through what they go through at the moment".

Turnbull, after days of mounting pressure, declared the leadership positions of the party open on Tuesday morning, throwing down the gauntlet to a potential challenge.

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.

It came after a sharp fall in opinion poll ratings and talk of an imminent challenge, which in turn has raised the possibility of an early election.

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