Australian minister Turnbull announces leadership challenge to PM

Updated: 2015-09-14 16:02


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Australian minister Turnbull announces leadership challenge to PM

A combination photo of Malcolm Turnbull (L) taken in Sydney on October 12, 2009 and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott taken in Brisbane on November 16, 2014. Prime Minister Abbott faced a challenge to his leadership when his popular communications minister launched a bid for the top office on Monday after months of speculation and poor showings in opinion polls. [Photo/Agencies]

CANBERRA - Senior Australian government minister Malcolm Turnbull launched a leadership challenge against Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday.

Turnbull announced that he was resigning from his position as communications minister to challenge the prime minister for the Liberal Party leadership, informing Abbott after Question Time in parliament.

Turnbull, a former Liberal opposition leader, told the press that Australians had "made up their minds" about Abbott's leadership.

He said he consulted with colleagues before deciding that he would be challenging the prime minister for the position, a sign he was confident of successfully winning a leadership vote.

"I met with the prime minister and advised him that I would be challenging him for the leadership of the Liberal party," Turnbull told the press on Monday, "I have also resigned as communications minister."

"This is not a decision that anyone could take lightly. I have consulted with many, many colleagues, many Australians and many of our supporters in every walk of life. This course of action has been urged on me."

Turnbull said Abbott had failed in his quest to economic governance, calling into question the prime minister's style of leadership.

"Ultimately the prime minister has not been capable of providing the economic leadership this nation needs. He has not been capable of providing the economic confidence that business needs," Turnbull said.

"We need a different style of leadership."

Turnbull also cited the opposition's growing popularity as another reason for the challenge, saying that under Tony Abbott, the Liberal party would be thrown out of government and replaced with a "reckless" Labor government which would destroy the China- Australia free trade agreement.

Turnbull said if the Liberal party was to be reelected when voters go to the polls next year, the government had to change for the better.

"The fact is, we are maybe 10 months, 11 months away from next election. Every month lost is a month of lost opportunities," Turnbull told the media.

"We need an open government. We have to make a change for the country's sake, the government's sake and the party's sake."

Earlier on Monday, it was reported that senior cabinet member and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop visited Tony Abbott before Question Time to inform him he had lost confidence of the party.

Following Question Time, Turnbull approached the prime minister to indicate he would be challenging his leadership.

Turnbull has requested a leadership ballot be contested to determine who would continue as the party's leader.