Malcolm Turnbull has been mortally wounded at the Liberal partyroom this morning after Turnbull declared the leadership vacant and Peter Dutton put his hand up for the leadership. Turnbull won the ballot against Dutton 48-35 with Julie Bishop being the only contender for Deputy Leader.
Today’s ballot follows leadership speculation that was kicked off last Thursday after Peter Dutton refused to back the National Energy Guarantee on Radio 2GB and said he would resign if he couldn’t support the policy. Since then conservative Liberal MPs had been engaging in an active push for Peter Dutton to challenge Malcolm Turnbull.
This snap poll was only won by Turnbull by such a narrow margin of 48-35 meaning that only 7 MPs needed to switch their vote for Peter Dutton to become Prime Minister. The fact that it was a surprise ballot with Dutton and his supporters not fully coordinating a challenge yet they still obtained 35 votes is more than enough to mortally wound Turnbull. Dutton has not made a public pitch for leadership outlining his vision for the nation.
Turnbull deciding to call a snap leadership spill has appeared to have backfired. There was also a story that appeared last night suggesting Dutton is ineligible to sit in the parliament due to his wife receiving subsidies from the federal government for childcare centres owned in an investment portfolio. It was speculated this was a leak from the Turnbull camp.
Dutton has now resigned from Cabinet and on the backbench will now be free to criticize government policy on energy and immigration and can successfully plan a second leadership challenge. It normally takes two leadership challenges to remove a Prime Minister as was the case with Paul Keating, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. When this second strike occurs remains to be seen but will happen when the numbers align for Dutton. When parliament returns on September 10 Malcolm Turnbull will have lost 40 Newspolls in a row
Turnbull now that 35 of his MPs want him to go means his leadership is permanently destabilized. Added to this is the horror Fairfax Ipsos poll this week where the Coalition is 45-55 behind meaning the Coalition now could not win an election under Turnbull. Labor will be able to capitalize on the Coalition being in this leadership twilight zone with a weakened Prime Minister while the challenger gets ready for the next strike.
We await public statements from Turnbull and Dutton and how Question Time today unfolds with a weakened Prime Minister and a challenger on the backbench.