Leadership is declared vacant ahead of crucial party meeting by Malcolm Turnbull

He said the leading conservative has "no intention of challenging Malcolm Turnbull.but if you have other information directly from the horse's mouth, then you can say so".

The contest came after Mr Turnbull declared the leadership vacant, forcing challengers to declare their intentions.

However, the site reports not everyone agreed with Dutton becoming leader, with another senior Liberal polly saying: "Peter Dutton is one of the most unpopular people in government". Mr Abbott told reporters outside Parliament House on Monday evening.

Mr Dutton is their leadership standard-bearer, with former prime minister Tony Abbott a key agitator on the backbench.

Turnbull has, "in a awful abrogation of leadership", given every backbencher the power of veto over government policy.

"The result of that ballot was Malcolm Turnbull was elected leader of the Liberal Party by 48 votes to 35 with Peter Dutton as the alternative candidate", said the party whip, Nola Marino.

"We always thought that he was convicted on climate change issues".

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Turnbull would next month become Australia's longest serving prime minister since Howard, having held the office for three years and four days.

He appeared to have support from Dutton at the time, who tweeted: "In relation to media stories today, just to make it very clear, the Prime Minister has my support and I support the policies of the Government".

Asked further about the leadership, Mr Turnbull said: "I enjoy the confidence of the cabinet and of my party room".

It was reported that Mr Dutton, Home Affairs Minister, did not attend the meeting.

Mr Turnbull has also faced increased pressure in recent weeks after losing a by-election in Queensland.

"I think the Australian public throw up their hands and say, "You guys in Canberra are playing games, putting your own self-interest first and you need to put our interests first".

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