Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott faces leadership challenge

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott faces leadership challenge

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott could face a second challenge to his position this year after a senior minister called for a vote on his party leadership.

Former Liberal Party leader and communications minister Malcolm Turnbull said he asked the prime minister to open up the party’s leadership to an internal vote, as the two-year-old conservative coalition government struggles in opinion polls.

Mr Abbott is now under pressure to prove he has the support of his colleagues.

“Ultimately, the prime minister has not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs,” Mr Turnbull told reporters. “He has not been capable of providing the economic confidence that business needs.”

Mr Turnbull, foreign minister Julie Bishop, the Liberal Party deputy leader, and social services minister Scott Morrison are considered potential candidates to replace Mr Abbott.

Nick Economou, a Monash University political scientist, said: “The Liberals have done enormous damage to themselves, regardless of the outcome.

“I find it hard to believe that someone would move on the leadership unless they were absolutely confident of their numbers.”

The government has trailed the opposition in a range of opinion polls since April last year. Mr Abbott survived a leadership challenge from within his party in February that was prompted by those polls and what some say were questionable judgments. At the time, Mr Abbott asked his colleagues for six months to improve his government’s popularity.

General elections are due in September next year.

Mr Turnbull, a 60-year-old former lawyer and merchant banker known for his moderate views, has long been considered Mr Abbott’s chief rival. He was opposition leader for two years before he lost a party-room ballot by a single vote to Mr Abbott in 2009.

Opinion polls show that Mr Turnbull is more popular than Mr Abbott, but many of those who prefer him vote for the centre-left Labour Party.

More in this Section

Hong Kong protesters mark brutal mob attack with sit-inHong Kong protesters mark brutal mob attack with sit-in

First Titanic expedition in 14 years uncovers ‘partial collapse of hull’First Titanic expedition in 14 years uncovers ‘partial collapse of hull’

EU to move evacuated migrants from Italy, but 350 still at seaEU to move evacuated migrants from Italy, but 350 still at sea

UK police called after suspected crocodile spotted in swampUK police called after suspected crocodile spotted in swamp


Lifestyle

Triathlete Carolyn Hayes is flat out. Since October 2018, she’s literally been racing around the world.On the treble: Triathlete Carolyn Hayes goes flat out to win a place in the Olympics

Children starting or going back to school is a reminder of how we all need an energy boost when sitting at a desk for hours, no matter what our age.Energy fix: Top 8 snacks for children

A sommelier shares her top tips.The dos and don’ts of serving wine – you just might have been doing it all wrong

It’s that time of year again; the long summer days are numbered, summer’s lease is all too short as she takes her last few breaths.Learning Points: Top tips on coping with back to school stress for you and the kids

More From The Irish Examiner