- Mr Abbott was ridiculed for decision to award knighthood to Prince Philip
- He has been under increasing pressure because of poor showings in polls
- Now an MP has moved motion for a ballot to declare party leadership open
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a leadership challenge triggered by his decision to award a knighthood to the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Liberal Party leader came to power with a stunning election victory just 15 months ago but has been under increasing pressure because of poor showings in opinion polls.
And Mr Abbott – a staunch monarchist – was ridiculed for his decision to award a knighthood to Prince Philip on Australia’s National Day last month.
ow Luke Simpkins, a Liberal MP, has moved a motion for a secret ballot on Tuesday to declare the party leadership open. If it receives the support of a majority of the 102 Liberal MPs it will lead to a leadership vote.
Mr Simpkins said in his email to party colleagues that the knighthood for Prince Philip was ‘the final proof of a disconnection with the people’.
He wrote: ‘I think we must bring this to a head and test the support of the leadership in the party room.’
Mr Abbott has come out fighting and declared he has the support of Julie Bishop, his deputy and potential candidate to replace him. Communication minister Malcolm Turnbull has also been touted as potential replacements for Mr Abbott.
While both have made public statements of support for him, they can sound out supporters from within government ranks now that the ballot is officially on the meeting agenda.
Mr Abbott has warned his colleagues against such a challenge.
He said Australians voted out the chaotic and divided centre-left Labour Party government in 2013 because it had changed its prime minister twice in four years.