Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull fights for survival after leadership challenge

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Australia’s prime minister is facing a political crisis over reports of a fresh leadership challenge and 10 senior ministers offering their resignation.

Malcolm Turnbull survived a vote to remove him by 48-35 on Tuesday, but local media outlets say he could face another within 24 hours.

He was told to stand down by home affairs minister Peter Dutton over the governing Liberal Party’s poor polling and a by-election defeat in Queensland.

Mr Dutton confirmed he was sounding out support for a second challenge, telling radio station 3AW: “I am not going to beat around the bush on that, I am speaking to colleagues.”

Hitting back, Mr Turnbull said the “iron laws of arithmetic” confirmed his position.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MAY 03: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton speaks to the media at Parliament House on May 3, 2016 in Canberra, Australia. Hodan Yasin, a 21-year-old Somali refugee has arrived for treatment in Brisbane after setting herself on fire while being detained in Nauru. It is the second attempt on Nauru in a week, after Iranian refugee Omid Masoumali set himself on fire last Wednesday. He later died from his injuries. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)  Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull fights for survival after leadership challenge skynews peter dutton australia 4397455
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Peter Dutton lost a bid to become prime minister by 13 votes

Mr Turnbull is clinging to a one-seat majority in the Australian parliament, propped up by minority coalition partners the Nationals.

He faces a general election by May 2019 but the Nationals have threatened to withdraw support if Mr Turnbull is ousted.

Aside from Mr Dutton, at least three of the 10 ministers who have offered their resignation are from within the cabinet, Australian media reported.

James McGrath, an assistant minister to Mr Turnbull, confirmed he had tried to quit the frontbench, writing a letter that crossed out “Dear Prime Minister” and started instead with “Dear Malcolm”.

Letter of resignation sent by minister James McGrath to Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull  Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull fights for survival after leadership challenge skynews letter australia james mcgrath 4397489
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James McGrath crossed out the words ‘prime minister’ in his letter

The opposition Labor Party said that “while chaos reigns, the country is not governed”.

Australia has had years of political instability since then-prime minister John Howard lost power in 2007.

No premier has lasted a full three-year term since.

All have been thrown out by their own parties in the face of poor opinion polling.



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