UPDATED: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he is waiting for a petition carrying a majority of MPs and will hold a party meeting at midday Friday.
If a spill is carried, he won't contest the leadership. He is also awaiting advice on Peter Dutton's eligibility to sit in Parliament.
Mr Turnbull declares this week's events are a "very deliberate effort to pull the Liberal Party further to the right".
He says the "minority" pushing for that have then, by a process of intimidation, "persuaded people that the only way to stop the insurgency is to give into it".
What we know so far
- Malcolm Turnbull is demanding to see the petition carrying 43 names – a majority of Liberal MPs – before convening a party room meeting. If he gets the petition, the meeting of 84 MPs will be called for 12pm tomorrow. Dutton forces are confident they have the numbers.
- Turnbull has called Peter Dutton's citizenship question "very significant" and says the Solicitor-General's advice, to be delivered to the government on Friday morning, must be a consideration in the contest.
- If a majority of Liberal MPs want a leadership spill, Turnbull will quit Parliament, causing a byelection.
- In a spill, it looks likely that Dutton will square off against Scott Morrison. Greg Hunt will run as Dutton's deputy. It is unclear who will join Morrison. Kelly O'Dwyer had been touted as a possibility but she has ruled it out.
- The House of Representatives has been adjourned, an extraordinary and controversial step. Turnbull has said the decision was made at Dutton's request. Dutton reportedly disputes this. Labor has savaged the move, saying the country no longer has a functioning government.
- If there is a change of leadership, Australians could face a snap election in the very near future.
- Turnbull says the push against him is an effort by a minority of MPs who want to "pull the Liberal Party further to the right" and have intimidated other MPs. He says these MPs have been supported by external forces, likely in reference to conservative voices in the media.
- Thirteen MPs, including Dutton, have now resigned from Turnbull's ministry.
- The Senate is still sitting until the end of the day. Question Time there is going ahead, with a severely and farcically depleted frontbench.
EARLIER: It has been a busy morning in Canberra with Peter Dutton publicly challenging Malcolm Turnbull to another leadership contest.
Dutton tweeted at 7.43am “...I spoke with Malcolm Turnbull to advise him I believe the majority of the party room no longer supported his leadership. Accordingly I asked him to convene a party room meeting at which I would challenge for the leadership of the Parliamentary Liberal Party.” He called a press conference and made a similar announcement.
The Prime Minister rejected Dutton’s request for a meeting.
At this point there was five front bench resignations.
Since then eight more ministers have resigned (13 in total) including Mathias Corman.
“I can’t ignore the fact that a majority of colleagues in the Liberal Party part room are of the view there should be a change,” he told media in Canberra.
“...and I would not have been in this position if we didn’t have a vote on Tuesday, followed by a stream of colleagues approaching me to express their view to me clearly.”
Along with Dutton, it is believed current treasurer Scott Morrison will contest the leadership.
EARLIER: Malcolm Turnbull may be facing a fresh challenge to his leadership with a small group of Liberal MPs pushing for Peter Dutton to have another go.
But new polling shows a Dutton government would crash at the election to Bill Shorten, with voters picking the Labor leader over the former Home Affairs minister.
A defiant prime minister is holding on to his leadership with support from his two key lieutenants, Treasurer Scott Morrison and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.
Mr Dutton's supporters circulated a letter on Wednesday night calling for the party room to meet.
"I understand there's a petition. I understand that a couple of hours ago there were nine signatures on it," Liberal MP Jane Prentice told reporters on Wednesday night.
It was unclear how many MPs had actually seen and signed the letter and if any cabinet ministers were willing to shift their support from Mr Turnbull.
Mr Dutton admitted he's calling Liberals to win support for a second challenge after failing 48 votes to 35 in a snap leadership ballot on Tuesday.
The electorate, however, appears to be supporting Mr Turnbull.
A Morgan poll of more than 1200 voters picked Mr Turnbull as the better prime minister over Mr Shorten, 52 per cent to 44.5 per cent.
But Mr Shorten thumped Mr Dutton 59 per cent to 36.5 per cent when voters were given the chance to pick between them.
"The iron laws of arithmetic confirmed my leadership of the Liberal Party," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
He was flanked by Mr Morrison and Senator Cormann, who gave him public votes of support.
"This is my leader and I'm ambitious for him," Mr Morrison said, giving Mr Turnbull a hug.
"I support the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull," added Senator Cormann.
Mr Dutton launched a media campaign on Wednesday morning, going on Melbourne radio to call for a royal commission into fuel and energy prices.
But Mr Morrison unleashed on Mr Dutton's plan to take the GST off electricity prices, calling it a "budget blower" that would cost $7.5 billion over four years.
Mr Dutton's push for another challenge lost some steam amid questions about his parliamentary eligibility over the public funding of childcare centres held under a family trust.
A parade of ministers who voted against Mr Turnbull were asked in parliament whether they supported him, and all answered yes.
Thursday is the last day of parliament until September 10, with the next scheduled Liberal partyroom meeting on September 11.
Australian Associated Press