Crossbenchers refuse to guarantee confidence to a Dutton government

Crossbenchers refuse to guarantee confidence to a Dutton government

So before we get into the complexities of sorting out exactly what a change in Prime Minister could mean for Australia, let's bring it back to basics and figure out the who's-who in the Australian Survivor Parliament right now.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's tenuous grip on power came under intense pressure Thursday with the man who wants his job launching a second leadership challenge in a week and senior ministers defecting.

Treasurer Scott Morrison will now replace Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and face Peter Dutton's leadership spill. He voted for the more moderate Turnbull in Tuesday's internal vote but is also a close friend of Dutton, a senior leader of the party's conservative faction.

Within the Liberal Party it is up to the leader to determine a partyroom meeting and Mr Turnbull, fighting for time, was never going to call a meeting in the dead of a cold Canberra night.

Mr Turnbull's allies said Mr Dutton had not secured the signatures of sufficient MPs to force a second vote.

They will culminate in a partyroom ballot today that will end the prime ministership of Mr Turnbull, continuing the cycle of disposing of prime ministers that has become part of the political landscape for a decade.

"As such I asked him to convene a meeting of the Liberal Party at which I will challenge him for the leadership of the parliamentary Liberal Party".

"It's been described by many people.as a form of madness".

But in a major blow, his influential Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, along with the employment and education ministers, said they no longer supported him.

Making a thinly veiled dig at former PM, and his predecessor, Tony Abbott, he added: "I believe former prime ministers are best out of parliament, I don't think there's much evidence to suggest that conclusion is not correct".

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But Liberal MPs need to first see the advice from the solicitor-general on the eligibility of challenger Peter Dutton to sit in the parliament, in the wake of reports he could be in breach of the constitution.

In a surprise vote of ruling lawmakers Tuesday, Turnbull defeated Dutton by 48 votes to 35.

"I am a creature of the Liberal Party".

Treasurer Scott Morrison also pledged to challenge for the top job, local media reported.

"Australia has had years of political instability since Prime Minister John Howard lost power in 2007 after more than 11 years in office", The Associated Press notes.

In a frantic Thursday morning, Australia's opposition parties lost a parliament vote that would have forced a court to determine whether Dutton is eligible for the premiership.

"Another day and another one of chaos from this government - a government that has effectively stopped governing because it's too busy fighting itself", said deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek.

"I know I represent and speak for the vast majority in the community who view the Labor and Liberals' treatment of the office of the Prime Minister as a revolving door and this has to stop, because it is overshadowing the work of running the country".

What happens if the prime minister isn't rolled on Friday?

Dutton, a hardline conservative who carved out his reputation overseeing Australia's harsh immigration policy, is unpopular with moderate voters, raising the possibility that a third, centrist candidate might still emerge.

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