Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Australian prime minister says he could quit Parliament soon

Scott Morrison Scott Morrison
Lloyd Bates | 24 August, 2018, 06:30

Bill Shorten has long trailed Mr Turnbull in popularity, even as Labor soared in the polls, but would be the nation's preferred prime minister if Mr Dutton were Liberal leader, according to a Roy Morgan poll.

Complicating matters, it has emerged that Dutton has financial interests in childcare centres that get government subsidies - possibly breaching constitutional rules - and Turnbull suggested he may not be eligible to sit in parliament, let alone be prime minister.

"I'm very confident we will have a party room meeting today", Mathias Cormann, formerly a key Turnbull backer who changed his support to Dutton and resigned as Finance Minister on Thursday, told Sky News.

Dutton, described by supporters as a pragmatic legislator who gets things done and by detractors as a racist who demonises refugees, quit his cabinet position after his first failed leadership bid. Mr Hogan did not respond to requests for comment.

The West Australian is locked in a three-way contest with senior colleagues Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison for the Liberal leadership.

Such a pending court case could scare lawmakers away from supporting Dutton in a leadership ballot.

Former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, an ex-police officer and right-winger, has been the stalking horse seeking to unseat Turnbull after a party backlash against his more moderate approach to politics.

One minister was so disillusioned with the push to oust Turnbull that he took to Twitter to apologise to the Australian people.

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He says he will stand down if a majority of Liberal Party MPs sign a letter to bring on an internal vote.

Moments after Mr Turnbull announced he may hold the meeting on Friday, Julie Bishop, the foreign minister and the Liberal deputy leader, said she would take part in a leadership contest, if one is held. "I sadly think we are going to see more of the same", he said.

Despite voters seeming to want Ms Bishop, she only enjoys the support of four of her WA Parliamentary colleagues in today's Liberal leadership ballot.

No Australian prime minister in the past decade has lasted a full three-year term before being dumped by his or her own party.

Another Turnbull supporter, Darren Chester, apologised to voters and said they "deserve better than numerous things our Federal Parliament has served up in the past 10 years".

Turnbull said he wanted the government's legal advice on Dutton's eligibility presented to Friday's meeting.

ACT Senator Zed Seselja said there were more than 40 signatures, telling the ABC it would be "extraordinary and I would say untenable" to leave Canberra for a fortnight "without having resolved this issue in the party room". As more and more candidates throw their hats in the ring, it becomes harder and harder to know who our Prime Minister will be a day, week or month from now.

Coupled with the government long trailing the opposition Labor party in opinion polls, the move sparked a revolt that quickly spiralled into calls for his head.

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