Peter Dutton says he will challenge Turnbull again if he’s got the support
22 August, 2018, 9:37 pm
CANBERRA, 22 AUGUST 2018 (SBS) – Peter Dutton has given his clearest indication that he intends to challenge Malcolm Turnbull for the Australian prime ministership for the second time.
The former Home Affairs minister was asked if he was “working the phones” to try to convince the seven colleagues he needs to tip the leadership ballot in his favour, based on Tuesday’s partyroom vote.
“Of course I am, I am speaking to colleagues,” Dutton told 3AW Melbourne.
“You don’t go into a ballot believing you’re going to lose, and if I believe that a majority of colleagues support me, then I would consider my position.”
Dutton moved to the backbench after losing a Liberal leadership ballot to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday, 35 votes to 48.
The following 24 hours saw a string of high-profile resignations from the Turnbull government’s frontbench, as ministers revealed they supported Dutton and therefore claimed they felt compelled to resign.
Dutton is no longer constrained by the convention of cabinet unity and is free to outline his alternative policy agenda.
On Tuesday, he suggested further cuts to immigration to allow Australia’s capital cities more time to “catch up” to infrastructure demands.
On Wednesday morning, he told Melbourne’s Triple M radio he would remove GST from electricity bills.
He also suggested a Royal Commission to investigate “electricity companies and the fuel companies”.
Nationals MP Darren Chester has suggested he would consider quitting the Coalition and moving to the crossbench as an independent if Dutton won in any future leadership ballot.
The move would be significant as it would effectively end the Turnbull government’s one-seat majority in the House of Representatives and trigger an early election.
Chester said all options were on the table in a “volatile environment”.
Chester said he had three options – remaining in his ministerial position, move to the backbench, or leave the party and go to the crossbench.
“There is no reason why any challenger to this position can assume a command of the numbers when there is a small majority. I know other colleagues are worried about it,” he said.
But two members of the Nationals, former leader Barnaby Joyce and Senator John ‘Wacka’ Williams, have told SBS News they were not aware of any others in the party planning a revolt under a potential Dutton government.