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Australia PM gives ultimatum to leadership rivals

8/23/2018

Canberra, Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has stared down calls for his resignation amid an escalating leadership crisis that has crippled his government, said a BBC News report on Thursday. Mr Turnbull is fighting to retain his position amid a push by senior colleagues to replace him as leader.But he has said he would not contest the leadership if his rivals in the Liberal Party secure enough support to bring on another internal vote. The government suspended parliament on Thursday to try to resolve the crisis.Mr Turnbull told reporters that Australians "will be rightly appalled by what they are witnessing in their nation's parliament today". Yes, but that could change on Friday. Mr Turnbull has vowed to hold a party meeting to see if he is still supported by a majority of MPs. If leadership rival Peter Dutton produces a letter with sufficient signatures, Mr Turnbull has said he will vacate the leadership. That would bring on a leadership contest. In that situation, Australian media reported that Mr Dutton could face off with Treasurer Scott Morrison.Mr Turnbull said he would not run.Mr Turnbull has endured poor opinion polls, the loss of recent by-elections, and a revolt by the conservative wing of his party.Internal rumblings came to a head in a debate about energy and climate policy - polarising issues for his centre-right coalition. In an attempt to appease conservatives on Monday, Mr Turnbull abandoned plans to set an emissions target in legislation.But it made little difference: Mr Dutton launched a leadership challenge a day later. Although Mr Turnbull won, the narrow 48-35 vote was seen as damaging. It prevented an entire session of Question Time, where the prime minister faces MPs in parliament, ahead of an already scheduled two-week break. This was seen as an extraordinary move.It also means all parliamentary business is halted, so no debates can be held of new laws passed. There were jeers of "you're a disgrace" from the opposition benches as the House of Representatives voted 70-68 to break until 10 September.Opposition Labor Leader Bill Shorten said the country "no longer has a functioning government". "The government may adjourn the parliament, but they cannot outrun the weight of failure of this government," he said after the vote. Here inside Parliament House, only one thing is clear - Malcolm Turnbull's time as prime minister is coming to a chaotic end. Journalists and politicians have been frantically stabbing at their phones in the hope of working out exactly what happens next.Australia may be familiar with regularly culling its prime ministers, but it's a bloody business that doesn't follow a neat, orderly script. Meanwhile, the normal business of governing has been suspended while the ruling party has its own civil war.Its past decade has been marked by a series of leadership coups, with three sitting prime ministers deposed by party rivals.Not a single leader in recent times has succeeded in serving a full three-year term as prime minister. Under the Australian system, as in the UK, the prime minister is not directly elected by voters but is the leader of the party or coalition that can command a majority in parliament. But in recent years, prime ministers unpopular in the polls - or with their colleagues - have been swiftly sacrificed from within.

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