MALCOLM Turnbull has been ousted as Australian Prime Minister by his party rivals – with Scott Morrison elected to take over his role.
The beleaguered leader of the conservative Liberal Party called a leadership meeting on Friday after losing the majority support of the party.
Morrison, who will be Australia’s sixth prime minister in less than 10 years, emerged victorious from a three-way race with former home affairs minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Turnbull, who opted not to contest the vote, is the fourth PM to be dumped by their own party before serving a full three-year term since 2010.
The leadership battle was sparked on Tuesday by an unsuccessful challenge by Dutton, who narrowly lost a vote against Turnbull.
Under intense pressure to call a second vote, Turnbull convened a party meeting after receiving a letter signed by the majority of party members calling for a change of leader.
Morrison defeated the key challenger Peter Dutton, a former Cabinet minister, by a vote 45-40.
Turnbull said before the ballot that if he lost he’d quit parliament, leaving the new government facing a by-election for his Sydney seat that could see it lose its one-seat majority.
Australian media reported that foreign minister Bishop, having been defeated in the leadership ballot, would likely also resign from politics.
Turnbull came to power in a party-room coup in September 2015.
A social liberal and multi-millionaire former merchant banker, he has struggled to appeal to conservative voters and only narrowly won a general election in 2016.
The Liberal party is the senior partner in the ruling conservative coalition.
MOST READ IN NEWS
The Liberal-National government has consistently trailed the opposition Labor party in opinion polls.
If Turnbull resigns from parliament, he would leave the new government facing a by-election for his Sydney seat that could see it lose its one-seat majority.
Turnbull said on Thursday he believed that former prime ministers are best out of the parliament.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at email@example.com or call 0207 782 4368 . You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.