Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull Survives Party Leadership Challenge

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There was also a vote on the deputy leadership but Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was the only candidate, despite speculation that Health Minister Greg Hunt had his eyes on the post.

Malcolm Turnbull will remain Australia's Prime Minister after defeating a leadership challenge from hard-line Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, 48 to 35.

Coincidentally, Turnbull as opposition leader in November 2009 faced a spill motion.

35 Liberal MPs - a significant chunk - voted for Peter Dutton in a surprise vote Turnbull called.

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Dutton will move to the backbench from the Home Affairs Minister position he lobbied hard to create, where he is likely to continue to agitate for the leadership.

"In relation to media stories today, just to make very clear, the Prime Minister has my support and I support the policies of the government", Mr Dutton tweeted.

Climate change was to be the undoing of Turnbull the first time around.

But another name has been thrown in the ring by political reporters who believe the Coalition leadership challenge could eventually pave the way for a return of Tony Abbott. But when Hockey refused to oppose a carbon emissions trading scheme, Abbott stood at the December 1 ballot and defeated Turnbull by one vote.

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The Prime Minister has seen his support crumble in recent days, forcing him to completely ditch his National Energy Guarantee (NEG) in an attempt to appease nervous MPs in his party who want him gone.

Mr Turnbull's original energy policy, which was trying to deliver cheaper energy, more reliability and lower emissions, enjoyed broad support - even in his party room.

"I think there might be a second phase strategy here".

Australia's election is set to be held in the middle of next year.

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Dutton put his hand up to challenge Turnbull for the top job after the PM's risky move to take control of the party. "But if it's just other people talking on Peter Dutton's behalf, then they are cowards working behind the scenes". "We've had Rudd to Gillard, Gillard to Rudd, Rudd to Abbott, Abbott to Turnbull", he said.