Australian PM Turnbull faces second leadership challenge

Australian PM Turnbull faces second leadership challenge

SYDNEY: Embattled Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull faced a second leadership challenge on Thursday (Aug 23), with the man who wants his job demanding a Liberal party meeting to vote on the issue.

Former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, seen as a hardline conservative, said he was confident he now had the numbers to unseat Turnbull, considered a moderate.

"I spoke with Malcolm Turnbull to advise him I believed the majority of the party room no longer supported his leadership. Accordingly, I asked him to convene a party room meeting at which I would challenge for the leadership," Dutton wrote on Twitter.

Turnbull survived a ballot on his leadership on Tuesday, winning the vote 48-35.

He has yet to publicly respond to the latest threat to his rule, although broadcaster ABC reported that he turned down the demand for another party meeting during the phone call.

To force the issue, Dutton must produce a petition signed by a majority of ministers, essentially saying they no longer had faith in Turnbull's leadership.

Local media widely reported that such a petition was being compiled, but it was not clear how many names were on it.

The turmoil has come to a head after months of poor opinion polls and a revolt by fellow Liberal politicians on Monday against the prime minister's plans to embed carbon emissions targets in law at a time of soaring power prices.

READ: Australia PM unlikely to contest another leadership vote: Report

Dutton quit his powerful cabinet position after his first failed leadership bid, with at least nine other ministers also offering to follow him out the door.

Turnbull has so far only accepted two resignations.

The unrest is the latest chapter in a turbulent decade for Australian politics, with no leader managing to serve out a full term since John Howard lost the 2007 election.

Source: Agencies/de