Published: Tue, August 21, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Peter Dutton launches challenge against Malcolm Turnbull for the prime ministership

The Liberal partyroom will meet on Tuesday amid growing speculation the Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton is considering a leadership challenge.

Mr Turnbull said yesterday company tax cuts remained on the parliamentary agenda, but there were reports he meant to put a plan to ditch the policy to last night's meeting.

Australia has gone through an extraordinary period of political instability since Prime Minister John Howard lost power in 2007 after more than 11 years in office.

Mr Turnbull said he would not proceed with the emissions target - part of his National Energy Guarantee (NEG) - because it had no prospect of passing through the House of Representatives, where he has only a slim majority.

"The Prime Minister is clearly rattled and he's anxious that the numbers are peeling off him".

Abbott deposed Turnbull as leader of the conservative Liberal Party in 2009 over differences in energy policy.

Mr Dutton is their leadership standard-bearer, with former prime minister Tony Abbott a key agitator on the backbench.

The Home Affairs Minister confirmed will face off against the prime minister in a leadership spill.

Dutton needs the support of 43 MPs and Senators to take the leadership.

"He is a member of our team". I think he probably still is. But when Hockey refused to oppose a carbon emissions trading scheme, Abbott stood at the December 1 ballot and defeated Turnbull by one vote.

"It's not about him, it's not about me".

"In politics you have to focus on what you can deliver", Mr Turnbull told reporters on Monday.

"The only way we can win the next election is to have a contest over policy not personalities".

Even former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, a staunch critic of Mr Turnbull's direction on energy prices, has been in his corner.

That aside, a string of poor public polls aren't making things any easier for Mr Turnbull.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said Mr Turnbull was constantly surrendering his principles to keep his job.

But Treasurer Scott Morrison said was "fully supportive" of the Prime Minister.

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