Leadership spill declared in Australia

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Australian Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg speak during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra

READ MOREPM backs down on emissions target amid leadership spill speculation

Malcolm Turnbull's lead as preferred Prime Minster has plummeted by 9 points to 48%.

Malcolm Turnbull could face a challenge to his leadership as early as this morning, with detailed plans having been drawn up for a takeover of power by conservative elements within the Liberal Party involving Peter Dutton as a prime minister.

After all, it's only three years since he launched his own "spill" to oust former prime minister Tony Abbott.

"He (Mr Turnbull) looks like he's in panic mode", a "senior figure" involved in the campaign against the Prime Minister told the newspaper.

Mr Turnbull said the climate policy was not supported by all of his colleagues.

While several backers of Mr Dutton have admitted to a "wait and see approach", nine cabinet ministers were ready to get behind the Home Affairs Minister - half of cabinet's 18 Liberals, The Australian reported.

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.

Abbott deposed Turnbull as leader of the conservative Liberal Party in 2009 over differences in energy policy.

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

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.

"Peter Dutton was at our leadership group meeting this morning and was at cabinet last night", Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra yesterday.

'I think this stability in our government has helped key outcomes like the strong performance we had on jobs'.

A Fairfax-Ipsos poll published on Monday showed 55 per cent of voters surveyed supported Labor and only 45 per cent supported the government.

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