Malcolm Turnbull says unity is 'critical' after surviving leadership spill

Leadership tensions are high in Canberra as rebel back benchers buck against Malcolm Turnbull's key energy policy

Leadership tensions are high in Canberra as rebel back benchers buck against Malcolm Turnbull's key energy policy

"We know that disunity undermines the ability of any government to get its job done, and unity is absolutely critical". Australians are due to hold a general election early next year. However, Mr Turnbull has consistently rated higher than Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister. One lawmaker abstained and another was away on sick leave.

Since 2007, no Australian leader has succeeded in serving a full three-year term as prime minister.

Turnbull, trying to regain the initiative as speculation swirled over his future, began a meeting of Liberal parliamentarians on Tuesday by declaring the leadership of the party, and therefore the government, open to be contested. Lawmakers won't gather again until September 10.

Now effectively neutered and unlikely to proceed, the NEG will become a millstone for Turnbull as he tries to rally his diminishing support base.

There was also an election for deputy leader.

Frydenberg said Cabinet ministers on Monday night expressed their support for Turnbull, including Dutton, who was a staunch ally of Abbott.

It took two unsuccessful challenges for Kevin Rudd to re-take the prime ministership from Julia Gillard in February 2012 and March 2013, before Rudd finally won in June 2013. The home affairs minister stood down from the cabinet and will now build support on the back benches. "I believe that Malcolm Turnbull is the right person to lead us to the next election".

Turnbull's position remains in jeopardy despite surviving Dutton's leadership challenge, stoking expectations of further political instability in a country that has seen six different leaders since 2009.

Before the ballot, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg had warned government colleagues that they would lose popularity if they dumped Turnbull.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the resignation would not have any impact on the issues the government continues to raise across the ditch.

Australia's prime minister on Monday abandoned plans to legislate to limit greenhouse gas emissions to head off a revolt by conservative lawmakers.

The concession avoided having the most conservative government lawmakers voting against the legislation in Parliament, openly undermining his authority.

Some lawmakers including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott argue the government should be focusing on cutting electricity prices instead of cutting emissions. "They'll just be bystanders until the election is called".

Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

Under new rules introduced on July 2, childcare centres now receive direct subsidies from the federal government and expose Mr Dutton to claims that he had a "pecuniary interest" in a contract with the Commonwealth and therefore breached section 44 of the constitution.

In his Sky News interview, he was asked at least 11 times to confirm or deny whether he would make another push for the top job. Labor leader Bill Shorten said of the party-room challenge. He refused to say, but added: "I have gone through what my job is now and that is to make sure that I can help the Coalition win the next election".

"In politics you have to focus on what you can deliver", Turnbull said. "They hate it when we are talking about each other".

Jayes pressed him, saying: "But numbers can change".

On the 35 members who voted for him, he said he was "very grateful" for their support.

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