Leadership is declared vacant ahead of crucial party meeting by Malcolm Turnbull


Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will recontest his position. But Turnbull ousted Abbott as prime minister in 2015 in a leadership ballot of government lawmakers concerned by the government's poor opinion polling.

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

Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull is facing a leadership crisis with speculation Peter Dutton has the numbers to challenge him for the top job.

In a dramatic move, Mr Turnbull used a meeting of Liberal Party MPs and Senators to declare open the leadership.

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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 Dutton is their leadership standard-bearer, with former prime minister Tony Abbott a key agitator on the backbench. "We've had Rudd to Gillard, Gillard to Rudd, Rudd to Abbott, Abbott to Turnbull", he said.

But this morning it is being reported that the Home Affairs Minister was last night telling his supporters he was still undecided on challenging Mr Turnbull.

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.

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About 10 coalition MPs have expressed concern the government's commitment to its Paris emissions-cut target is being prioritised ahead of cutting power prices.

The Telegraph says Abbott would return to "a prestigious portfolio" such as Home Affairs or Defence and would be "tasked with being the Dutton Government's chief attack dog" to campaign against opposition leader Bill Shorten.

Mr Dutton tweeted on Saturday that he supported the prime minister.

While Coalition marginal seat holders have publicly supported Mr Turnbull, some privately lobbied in favour of Mr Dutton to improve the party's chances in Queensland.

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