Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced he will not contest for the leadership of the Liberal Party should another spill motion be carried, all but confirming his time as Australia‘s leader is through.
At a press conference in Canberra this afternoon, Turnbull said that if a majority of Liberal members call for another party room meeting to settle the ongoing leadership crisis, he will hold the meeting tomorrow at noon.
As of yet, a petition bearing the names of the majority of the party room has not been tendered, but after the high-profile defection of senior powerbrokers like Senator Mathias Cormann, it’s looking pretty bloody likely.
Turnbull said that if a spill motion is carried, he won’t have another crack at the top job, meaning aspirant Peter Dutton has a pretty clear shot at becoming the next Liberal leader and prime minister. It also seems likely that Treasurer Scott Morrison will step in to challenge Dutton if the spill motion is carried.
However, Turnbull also leaned heavily on the new constitutional cloud hovering above his former Minister for Home Affairs, saying any of Dutton’s potential breaches of Section 44 should be very heavily scrutinised before he moves into Kirribilli House.
Turnbull said he is waiting on advice from the Solicitor-General regarding Dutton’s eligibility. Meanwhile, Dutton claims he’s entirely in the clear.
The current leader also confirmed that if he is deposed, he will resign from office, as he doesn’t believe former prime ministers lingering around the backbench does anyone any good (Hint, hint, Tones).
It’s all a big garbage fire, but at least it’s a garbage fire we can now understand a little better. Wait for that petition to rock up, and then the real fun / existential horror will begin.