Turnbull's troubles far from over as vote reveals divided caucus

Puppets of Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott rig the sun versus coal race in a protest outside Parliament

ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN Puppets of Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott rig the sun versus coal race in a protest outside Parliament

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared the leadership vacant and will officially recontest his position against Peter Dutton.

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.

After a week of mounting pressure on Turnbull's leadership over his handling of energy policy and election strategy, the prime minister used the regular Tuesday party room meeting to spill the party leadership to attempt to head off a growing conservative-led move against him.

HOME Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has resigned from the government frontbench. Climate groups anxious that the National Energy Guarantee would not do enough to combat climate change.

"Peter Dutton was at our leadership group meeting this morning and was at cabinet last night", Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra yesterday.

"I believe he has the vast majority of the party room behind him". It's reminiscent of the #putoutyourbats tribute to late cricketer Phillip Hughes, and the #putoutyouronions trend when Turnbull challenged Tony Abbott for the leadership.

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Mr Turnbull's risky move may have backfired as it exposes the weakness of his position and the size of the split between the two factions of the Liberal Party. Support for the government has crashed.

While Coalition marginal seat holders have publicly supported Mr Turnbull, some privately lobbied in favour of Mr Dutton to improve the party's chances in Queensland.

Mr Turnbull had brought on the vote himself in a bid to resolve speculation that his leadership was under threat.

Despite Dutton receiving 35 votes, Bishop described the result as "an overwhelming vote of support for the Prime Minister".

"What we've seen here is a prime minister who has clearly listened to concerns", Mr Joyce said.

The latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll highlights the malaise.

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