Turnbull Challenge: Liberals preparing for three-way battle

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. The beleaguered prime minister warned he will quit Parliament on Friday if his disgruntl

Damian Drum against leadership change

If he moves out of politics, it would spark a by-election for his Sydney seat, threatening the government's one-seat parliamentary majority.

Former treasurer Scott Morrison looks set to become Australia's 30th Prime Minister following a leadership vote on Friday, ending a week of chaos in the country's capital.

Australian media have reported that Treasurer Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop would contest a leadership vote, with Morrison the stronger contender.

The Liberal party is the senior partner in the Liberal-National coalition government that has consistently trailed opposition Labor in opinion polls in recent months.

"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 told Sky News on Friday.

But after a torrid week of political manoeuvring in Canberra it was Morrison, a Turnbull ally who served as treasurer, who won a party vote 45-40.

"In 2016, Malcolm and I led our two parties in the longest election campaign in fifty years and in some respects, I suppose we have been engaged in that same contest in the two years since", he said in a statement.

His new deputy Josh Frydenberg was Turnbull's environment and energy minster and was responsible for developing the climate policy.

But in the interview with Women's Weekly he said his beliefs did not define his politics.

Australian Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison second left Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull center and former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton right leave the chamber at Parliament House in Canberra Thursday Aug. 23 2018 after a vote to refer form
Australian government moves to adjourn parliament

According to Glenn Kefford, a political scientist at Macquarie University in Sydney, Morrison's leadership is likely to take the Australian government on a more conservative course. I don't think any Australian Prime Minister has used the word "love" more frequently in his public remarks.

It came just days after Turnbull defeated Dutton 48-35 in a ballot on Tuesday.

Turnbull said that assuming the spill was carried, the new prime minister would "have to obviously satisfy the Governor-General that they can command a majority on the floor of the House of Representatives".

That legal advice is expected to be delivered to Mr Turnbull at about 8.30am local time and if the Commonwealth's top legal advisor expresses doubts about Mr Dutton's eligibility, that could damage his chances. It could also encourage Mr Morrison to call general elections.

Former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, an ex-police officer and right-wing conservative, said he was confident he now had the numbers to unseat Turnbull, considered a moderate.

Speaking after the meeting, Dutton pledged "absolute loyalty" to Morrison and said he would do everything he could to ensure the government wins the next election, whenever that's held.

"Over the next four years, the GST pool is going to grow by $6.5 billion specifically because of the decisions we have taken as a government".

Turnbull told reporters Friday there was "a determined insurgency from a number of people both in the party room and backed by voices, powerful voices, in the media" to "bring down my prime ministership".

During a three-way vote, whoever comes last in the first round will be eliminated with a second round taking place to decide who becomes leader.

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