Australian PM calls leadership ballot

Canberra, Sep 14 (IANS) Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called for a leadership ballot slated for Monday night and said he is confident of beating challenger senior cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Earlier in the day, Turnbull resigned from the Cabinet in an attempt to force a leadership ballot and announced plans to contest the Liberal leadership, ABC reported.

“The prime ministership of this country is not a prize or a plaything to be demanded. It should be something which is earned by a vote of the Australian people,” Abbott said.

“I will be a candidate and I expect to win.”

Abbott said there was strong support for him to stay on.

According to sources, Turnbull’s supporters believe he has the numbers to win, and he has secured the backing of deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop, which is considered crucial.

Abbott said that since coming to government, his team has stopped the boats, improved the budget, cut taxes and increased jobs.

“We have laid the foundation for a better deal for families and for small business,” he said, adding “You can trust me to deliver a stronger economy and a safer community.”

Turnbull said if the Liberal party was to be re-elected when voters go to the polls next year, the government had to change for the better.

“The fact is, we are maybe 10 months, 11 months away from the next election. Every month lost is a month of lost opportunities,” Turnbull said.

“We need an open government. We have to make a change for the country’s sake, the government’s sake and the party’s sake.”

Turnbull said Abbott had failed in his quest to economic governance, calling into question the premier’s style of leadership.

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