Australian prime minister says he could quit Parliament soon

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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Aug. 23, 2018.

Turnbull's main rival in his government, former Cabinet minister Peter Dutton, has told the prime minister that a majority of Liberal Party lawmakers - at least 43 - don't support his leadership.

If that meeting wanted a leadership ballot, Turnbull said he would not contest his job and would not stay in Parliament.

The prime minister, who has been in the job since 2015, survived a surprise vote on Tuesday, defeating Mr Dutton 48-35.

He says he will stand down if a majority of Liberal Party MPs sign a letter to bring on an internal vote.

Mr Turnbull responded by saying: "What we have witnessed at the moment is a very deliberate effort to pull the Liberal Party further to the right".

"Yesterday I was hosting the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand, Winston Peters".

In response, Dutton wrote a message Wednesday that begged Australian social media users to look at his photo before sending him messages.

Wants to receive solicitor general advice on Dutton's eligibility to sit.

Key crossbenchers will not guarantee support for a government led by Peter Dutton, casting doubts on whether the Liberal MP could command a majority on the floor of the house in the wake of a successful second coup.

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"The government may adjourn the parliament, but they can not outrun the weight of failure of this government", he said.

Dutton, however, is also under pressure after Turnbull asked the government's most senior legal advisor to provide guidance on whether the former home affairs minister is eligible to remain in parliament and that advice is expected on Friday morning.

A ReachTel poll of 2,430 voters, taken on Wednesday night, showed Ms Bishop had the support of 29 per cent of respondents, nearly triple Mr Dutton's 10 per cent backing and Mr Morrison's 8.6 per cent support.

While Dutton is still seen as the front runner for the challenge when it inevitably occurs late Thursday or even Friday - it's now being reported that Treasurer Scott Morrison has thrown his hat in the ring and will also challenge for the leadership in the next spill.

Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten told Parliament it was evidence that "Australia no longer has a functioning government".

Tolstoy's famous remark in Anna Karenina may well apply to political parties: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way".

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.

Dutton, whose switch to the backbench after resigning from Cabinet on Tuesday allowed him to openly canvass for support, has sought to show off his softer side in a bid to appeal to more voters.

Donaghue said Dutton's case was impossible to predict because the facts are "unlike those that have previously been assessed" by the high court and there is "significant division" on the court about section 44 (v).

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