Australian PM refuses to concede, dangles second leadership ballot

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a news conference at Parliament House in Canberra Australia

Malcolm Turnbull speaking to media at Parliament House in Canberra yesterday. He voted for the more moderate Turnbull in Tuesday's internal vote but is also a close friend of Dutton, a senior leader of the party's conservative faction.

Turnbull said if he received a letter requesting a fresh vote with the signatures of 43 Liberal Party lawmakers, he would call a party meeting for midday Friday (0200 GMT).

As a sign of the frustration within the Liberals, Queensland's Scott Bucholz, a backer of the Prime Minister, was one who called on Mr Turnbull to bring it on and stop the blood-letting. The balloting of party members who are not lawmakers takes a month, meaning Australians will never again wake to news that a Labor prime minister had been changed without warning.

The contenders and the incumbent in Australia's Liberal party leadership fight.

"It is described by many people ... as a form of madness, and it is remarkable we're at this point where only a month ago we were being avid readers of polls, and we were just little bit behind Labor".

Another Turnbull supporter, Darren Chester, apologised to voters and said they "deserve better than numerous things our Federal Parliament has served up in the past 10 years".

Mr Turnbull said the public would be "crying out for an election" once the dust settled.

"As such, I asked him to convene a meeting of the Liberal Party at which I would challenge for the leadership of the parliamentary Liberal Party".

"I've made it very clear that I believe that former prime ministers are best out of the parliament and I don't think there's much evidence to suggest that that conclusion is not correct", he said.

In a thinly-veiled swipe at his predecessor Tony Abbott, Mr Turnbull said history proved sitting on the backbench was not a good option.

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Several backbenchers have already publicly said they would sit on the cross bench if Dutton is elected, in protest at the expected change in prime minister.

Australia's beleaguered prime minister was resisting pressure to quit as opponents from within his party struggled on Thursday to show that he had lost the government's support. The next scheduled party meeting is September 11.

Apart from anything else, the Liberal Party is so bitterly divided, the wounds so deep, its credibility so shattered, it will take years for the scars to heal.

Meanwhile, Treasurer Scott Morrison has steadied as the third favoured option for betting agencies, third in all six.

The unrest is the latest chapter in a turbulent decade for Australian politics, with no leader managing to serve out a full term since John Howard lost the 2007 election.

WHO IS PETER DUTTON?: What Do We Know About Peter Dutton, The Man Who Wants To Be PM? .

"Another day and another one of chaos from this government - a government that has effectively stopped governing because it's too busy fighting itself", said deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek.

Peter Dutton says a former solicitor-general has advised him he is eligible to sit as a member of parliament, putting to rest "spurious and unsubstantiated allegations" about his eligibility.

But the fact the Liberal Party is seriously contemplating the elevation to prime minister of a parliamentarian over whom such a cloud exists is nothing short of a folly.

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