Australian PM Turnbull fighting to stay in power

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is fighting to keep his position amid an escalating leadership crisis within his government.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in a leadership battle for his role, said Thursday he would resign if he lost his position and blamed critics and those in his party for sparking an "insurgency." File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in a leadership battle for his role, said Thursday he would resign if he lost his position and blamed critics and those in his party for sparking an “insurgency.” File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

The prime minister, in a three-way leadership battle, said on Thursday he would resign if he lost the vote for his position, and blamed critics in the media and those in his own party for sparking an “insurgency” against the government.
Turnbull’s announcement comes as Peter Dutton, a populist who has campaigned on border protection, attempts for the second time in a week to unseat the prime minister.

On Tuesday, Turnbull narrowly withstood a challenge to his office and defeated Dutton by a 48-35 vote.

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In Australia, the prime minister isn’t elected by voters directly, but instead acts as the leader of a coalition in parliament. Turnbull became the country’s prime minister in 2015 after winning a similar leadership challenge

Turnbull, a former banker and millionaire tech investor, is considered by critics too liberal on social issues and has struggled to maintain the voter support of populist and right-wing parties.

As home affairs minister, Dutton held a hard-line stance on asylum seekers and has blamed African migrants for committing crimes.

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The showdown has paralyzed the government for days and drawn criticism from the country’s major corporations.

Turnbull said if he gets a letter with the minimum 43 signatures required of party lawmakers for a vote on his position, he would schedule a meeting Friday. If a vote is held in favor of replacing him, he said he would step down.

Along with Dutton, others vying for the position include Treasurer Scott Morrison and possibly Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

BySusan McFarland