Malcolm Turnbull to face party room as Peter Dutton considers leadership challenge

Malcolm Turnbull to face party room as Peter Dutton considers leadership challenge

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has called - and won - a contest for his party's leadership over Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce yesterday backed Mr Turnbull to remain as leader and welcomed the Government's changes on the contentious energy policy.

Dutton immediately resigned from the home affairs super ministry, moving to the backbench where he will not be constrained by cabinet solidarity which has seen him lock in reluctantly behind Turnbull's position on the national energy guarantee and tax cuts for big business.

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.

"We can not allow, as I said in the party room today, our internal issues to undermine our work", Mr Turnbull told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Turnbull had brought on the vote himself in a bid to resolve speculation that his leadership was under threat.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the resignation would not have any impact on the issues the government continues to raise across the ditch. Now a backbencher, Mr Dutton is free to openly suggest policy alternatives.

Mr Dutton has not indicated if he will mount another challenge.

The opposition held its caucus meeting on Tuesday but is yet to make public comment on the leadership ballot.

"We're for lower prices, Mr Shorten is for higher prices", he said.

Peter Dutton to challenge Malcolm Turnbull.

He said: "I've spoken to Peter Dutton".

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The disunity came to a head on Monday when Turnbull was forced to shelve plans to embed carbon emissions targets in law after a revolt by fellow Liberal politicians.

But the move has failed to silence conservative critics within the Coalition.

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

"The Labor Party will just want to increase it to 45 per cent - they are in bed with the Greens", she said.

Climate change was to be the undoing of Turnbull the first time around. I think he probably still is.

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

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