Australian prime minister wins leadership challenge

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It's not his preference to launch a challenge but no firm guarantees have been made he won't.

Backers of likely leadership challenger Peter Dutton, the conservatives' standard-bearer, insist his support levels are building rapidly.

A Fairfax-Ipsos poll published on Sunday night revealed that the Liberal National Party (LNP) was facing a landslide election defeat to the ALP with the Opposition leading 55-45 on a two-party preferred basis. After a flight was delayed, he caught a VIP flight to Canberra to make the meeting in time.

Indeed, there was something verging on the unsettling to witness a smile creeping across the familiar death's head of this scourge of asylum seekers, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection from 2014 till 2017, and all-powerful Minister for Home Affairs from previous year to this day.

He took it a step further on Monday, announcing at a press conference that the targets would be scrapped entirely from the the NEG.

Mr Turnbull and Mr Dutton, who have had a good and supportive relationship, had spoken and texted regularly over the weekend.

"The problem is that Bill Shorten would be a disastrous prime minister of this country and I believe I had the best prospect of leading the Liberal party to success at the next election", he said.

Mr Dutton resigned from Cabinet after the vote and will move to the backbench, triggering a ministerial reshuffle.

"There are members of Parliament. who want power prices down, who want to end Labor's emissions obsession, who are not worshipping at the altar of the climate change gods, and who are prepared to stand up for traditional Liberal conservative values", Abbott said earlier in August on Sky News Australia.

Christopher Pyne was at the dinner.

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Turnbull also emphasised the vote was a secret ballot while Julie Bishop called the vote an "overwhelming vote of support". With only a few days of real counting, Dutton nearly unseated him as PM.

The Nationals were furious when they found out about the NEG changes from news sources and Mr Turnbull in a room full of lobbyists. It means a Cabinet reshuffle is now an nearly certainty.

Despite Mr Spence's reported edict, some within the LNP have questioned how much influence his directions would have on the MPs decision.

Despite the victory, Mr Turnbull's position remained in jeopardy despite surviving Dutton's leadership challenge.

In his parliamentary register of interest, Mr Dutton lists himself as a beneficiary of RHT Family Trust - along with his wife and children.

The prime minister on Monday announced that he had abandoned his plan to legislate the emissions target; a move that was described by many as a desperate attempt to save his status as leader with pressure mounting.

What I say is exactly what I said to them, to all of my colleagues, that united, we are able to as a team deliver the great results, continue to deliver the great results that we have, for all Australians.

If history is anything to go by, the writing's on the wall for Mr Turnbull. He needs only seven more MPs to defect from Mr Turnbull's camp to topple him as prime minister.

Meantime, Mr Joyce is understood to be considering legal advice to determine how to ensure the sexual misconduct case alleged by West Australian woman Catherine Merriott can be finalised.

A Morgan poll of more than 1,200 voters found they picked Mr Turnbull as the better prime minister over Mr Shorten, 52 per cent to 44.5 per cent.

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