Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday said he will convene a new meeting of the Liberal Party if 43 of its MPs signed a petition requesting the same amid growing clamour for his resignation. Turbull said that if MPs in that meeting want a leadership ballot, he will step down as the prime minister, ABC News reported.
The Australian prime minister has been facing poor opinion polls, a defeat in July’s bye-elections and a revolt within the conservative ranks of his party.
“What we have witnessed at the moment is a very deliberate effort to pull the Liberal Party further to the right,” Turnbull told reporters. “A minority has by a process of intimidation persuaded people that the only way to stop the insurgency is to give in to it. I have never given in to bullies.”
Turnbull had defeated former Cabinet minister Peter Dutton 48-35 in a leadership vote on Tuesday. Senior ministers Mathias Cormann, Michaelia Cash and Mitch Fifield had told the prime minister that he had lost the government’s support and should resign quickly.
Legislators on Turnbull’s side have also begun to support Dutton for the leadership. Leader of the government in the Senate Mathias Cormann said he was supporting Turnbull till Wednesday, but switched sides because he “could no longer ignore reality”.
Meanwhile, the Parliament was adjourned early on Thursday as a result of the leadership crisis. Opposition lawmakers expressed outrage, with Labor Party leader Bill Shorten saying that it showed that “Australia no longer has a functioning government”.
When the Senate reconvened, a no-confidence motion against the government failed 31-35, The Guardian reported.
Contenders for the next prime minister’s post are Dutton, Treasurer of Australia Scott Morrison, and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.