CANBERRA, Australia – Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull survived a lead test on Tuesday and defeated a high-ranking minister in an internal vote that will barely answer questions from his support. Interior Minister Peter Dutton resigned from the Cabinet after the vote, but the amount of support he received a day after playing down the possibility of a challenge surprised many commentators.
Turnbull called the vote at a meeting of conservative liberal party legislators over his support within the government. Government spokeswoman Nola Marino said Turnbull won 48 to 35 votes. One legislature abstained and another was due to illness.
Dutton supporters say that the former police drug dealer detective might have gathered enough support to challenge the leadership on Thursday before parliament needs a two-week break and lawmakers will not reassemble until September 10.
Nick Economou, a political analyst at Monash University in Melbourne, believes lawmakers are giving up Turnbull for fear that it will lead to a devastating defeat (19659007) The longer Turnbull remains Prime Minister, the worse the opinion poll become the government, Economou said.
"Voters will do what they always do – they react very badly to internal tensions inconsistency," Economou said.
Before the vote, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg had warned government colleagues that they would lose popularity if they dropped Turnbull.  Frydenberg said voters are tired of governments changing their prime ministers over and over again. Ousting Turnbull would be a sixth-in-command in less than 11 years. The center-left opposition Labor Party elected a leader, Keven Rudd, twice during a chaotic six-year term in power.
"There are high transaction costs due to changing leaders, Labor has seen us see that," Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "I believe that Malcolm Turnbull is the right candidate to lead us to the next election . "
Turnbull made a major concession to his opponents on Monday by abandoning legislative plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions
The concession shunned the most conservative government legislators, who voted against parliamentary legislation and publicly undermined its authority.
But former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was turned down by Turnbull in a 2015 government poll, was not convinced that Turnbull had abandoned Australia's greenhouse gas emissions legislation by 26 percent below its 2005 level.
"What we want to know: where are the beliefs of this prime minister?" Abbott told the ABC in front of the Parliament building on Monday night.
"It was a transformation of convenience this morning," added Abbott.
Dami a Drum, a legislator in the Nationals Party, a younger coalition partner, urged Abbott to resign from parliament rather than destabilize the government.
"He swore he would not be a Wrecker," Drum told reporters at Abbott. "That's exactly what he was – a kill, and he has to get off the joint."
Frydenbeg said the Cabinet ministers expressed their support for Turnbull on Monday evening, including Dutton, who was an Abbott allies ally  Deputy Liberal Party leader Julie Bishop retained her position unopposed on Tuesday.
Australia has experienced an extraordinary period of political instability since Prime Minister John Howard lost power in 2007 after more than 11 years in office.
Turnbull would become Next month, he became Australia's longest-serving prime minister since Howard, having held office for three years and four days.
The government has rejected Labor in most opinion polls since the last election in 2016 next year.
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