LIBERAL MP Malcolm Turnbull has announced he will challenge Tony Abbott for leadership of his party.
Above: Turnbull (middle) with McMillan MP Russell Broadbent (left) in Drouin. Photo by William PJ Kulich.
Speaking to media this afternoon, Mr Turnbull said he had met with the prime minister and informed him he would call a party meeting for a ballot on the leadership to be held.
He also announced he had resigned as communications minister.
The announcement comes after dismal polling for the party in its first term in government and for Mr Abbott himself. It has been suggested the Liberals could lose the seat of Canning in a by-election on Saturday despite a strong margin.
Last week’s “#Boomgate” incident, where Mr Abbott was caught on microphone and camera laughing at a joke on climate change causing the Pacific Islands to go underwater made by immigration minister Peter Dutton, was the latest incident to not wash well with the public.
Mr Turnbull said the party needed better leadership.
“This is not a decision anyone could take lightly,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“I have consulted with many, many colleagues, many Australians, many of our supporters in every walk of life and this course of action has been urged on me by many people over a long period of time.
“It is clear enough that the government is not successful in providing the economic leadership that we need. It is not the fault of individual ministers. Ultimately, the prime minister has not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs. He has not been capable of providing the economic confidence business needs.”
This is not the first spill Mr Abbott has faced since coming to power in 2013. He said he was “determined to do better” after a motion in February this year.
“If we continue with Mr Abbott as prime minister it is clear what will happen; he will cease to be prime minister and he will be succeeded by Mr Shorten,” Mr Turnbull said.
Above: Malcolm Turnbull announcing the spill. Image via ABC video.
“If we do not make a change, the one thing that is clear about our situation is the trajectory. We have lost 30 Newspolls in a row. It is clear the people have made up their mind about Mr Abbott’s leadership.”
In an interesting parallel to the Gang of Four situation which contributed to Kevin Rudd’s first prime ministership being ended with a spill, Mr Turnbull said there had not been enough consultation between Mr Abbott and the wider coalition.
“We need to restore traditional cabinet government,” he said.
“There must be an end to policy on the run and captain’s calls. We need to be truly consultative with colleagues, members of the parliament, senators and the wider public. We need an open government.
“We are living, as Australians in the most exciting time. The big economic changes that we are living through here and around the world offer enormous challenges and enormous opportunities, and we need a different style of leadership.
“We need a style of leadership that explains those challenges and opportunities, explains the challenges and how to seize the opportunities. A style of leadership that respects the people’s intelligence, that explains these complex issues, and then sets out the course of action we believe we should take and makes a case for it. We need advocacy, not slogans.
“We need to respect the intelligence of the Australian people.”
Mr Turnbull said he was “motivated by a commitment to serve the Australian people to ensure our Liberal values continue to be translated into good government, sound policies, economic confidence creating the jobs and prosperity of the future.”
“Remember this, the only way… we can ensure that we remain a high wage, generous social welfare net society is if we have outstanding economic leadership [and] strong business confidence,” jhe said.
“That is what… I am committed to deliver if the party room gives me support as leader of the party.”
If successful, this will be the third electoral cycle in a row in which the prime minister has changed between elections.
A time for the spill has not been set.
Former Liberal premier of Victoria Jeff Kennett has hit out at Turnbull’s decision to run, describing it as “selfish”.
“You and K Rudd have so much in common. Pity you did not have the discipline that is represented by [Canning Liberal candidate] Andrew Hastie,” he said on Twitter.
The ballot will be held tonight. In a press conference, Mr Abbott said he will stand and he will win.