Australia Prime Minister Loses Leadership Fight

Australia Prime Minister Loses Leadership Fight
Australia Prime Minister Loses Leadership Fight

Seven months after surviving a no-confidence vote, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was toppled Monday in a leadership challenge from his popular former communications minister.

Malcolm Turnbull won the Liberal Party room vote 54-44 in Canberra, hours after declaring his leadership bid, CNN reported.  

A former lawyer turned businessman, Turnbull told a late-night press briefing that his new government would be “thoroughly consultative.”

“The prime minister of Australia is not a president. The prime minister is the first among equals,” he said, flanked by Julie Bishop, who was returned as the party’s deputy leader.

The remark could be seen as a criticism of Abbott’s leadership style. He was considered a leader prone to making “captain’s calls” -- decisions made without any consultation.

Turnbull wouldn’t comment on any departures from current government policy, saying that any decisions would be made in a “thoughtful and considered manner.”

“I’m not going to make policy pronouncement from this podium tonight. Of course policies change, they change all the time,” he said.

Abbott seemed caught off guard by the swift pace of the leadership challenge, though rumors–and low ratings in polls–had suggested his position was in trouble for months.

In a hastily convened press conference Monday afternoon, Abbott said, “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.”