Australian PM waters down energy bill to dampen leadership pressure

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Malcolm Turnbull has defeated Peter Dutton 48-35 after throwing the leadership open in a dramatic surprise move to catch his party enemies off guard. Julie Bishop remains deputy prime minister after her position was uncontested.

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said earlier Mr Dutton had told him the prime minister has his absolute support.

Following increasing speculation of a leadership spill involving Peter Dutton, reports emerged on Monday that Mr Spence had been calling on MPs to drop their support for Mr Turnbull in favour of Mr Dutton.

The contest came suddenly during a closed-door Liberal partyroom meeting when Mr Turnbull declared the leadership positions vacant, forcing challengers to declare their intentions.

Malcolm Turnbull called the spill after what was clearly massive pressure from the Dutton camp.

Sky News is reporting that after Mr Turnbull called the spill, Mr Dutton put his hand up to challenge.

"I'm certain he is telling the truth", he told the Nine Network.

Big quakes trigger landslides on Indonesia's Lombok island
There were no fatalities because Mount Rinjani National Park is still closed after the devastation caused by previous quakes. Many people were already staying in tents following the deadly quake in early August and its hundreds of aftershocks.

Under the Australian system, as in the United Kingdom, the prime minister is not directly elected by voters but is the leader of the party or coalition that can command a majority in parliament.

Mr Pyne described his Liberal colleagues stoking leadership tensions as "cowards".

Mr Turnbull said he would not proceed with the emissions target - part of his National Energy Guarantee (NEG) - because it had no prospect of passing through the House of Representatives, where he has only a slim majority. Many were looking to Peter Dutton, the hardline...

"I don't actually expect a challenge today, but we'll wait and see", he told the ABC on Tuesday.

After losing Dutton, a former police officer who ran a powerful department that oversees the country's domestic spy service, border force and national police, quit and moved to the backbench, broadcaster ABC reported.

It took two unsuccessful challenges for Kevin Rudd to re-take the prime ministership from Julia Gillard in February 2012 and March 2013, before Rudd finally won in June 2013.

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