Defiant Australia PM Turnbull refuses to 'give in to bullies'

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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Aug. 23, 2018.

Besieged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's leadership looked doomed after three of his senior ministers announced that they had tendered their resignations and called for a second leadership vote.

That leaves a couple of reported contenders fighting for the leadership: Peter Dutton, probably Scott Morrison, and now perhaps also Julie Bishop, who 7News and Fairfax report is doing the numbers to see whether she has the support.

"Australians will be rightly appalled by what they're witnessing in their nation's parliament today and in the course of this week", Mr Turnbull said in Canberra on Thursday.

Legal experts had suggested Peter Dutton has questions to answer about his eligibility.

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull is facing a demand by a party rival for a second leadership challenge, as he fights to retain his grip on power.

Peter Dutton is "not incapable" of sitting as a member of parliament, according legal advice from the solicitor general, but there is still "some risk" the high court might find he has a conflict of interest.

Australia appears set to get its sixth change of prime minister in 11 years on Friday in a ballot of government lawmakers which would continue an era of extraordinary political instability.

The Australian Parliament shut down on Thursday as the government passed a motion adjourning the House of Representatives at midday until September 10.

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But he didn't bank on the vengeance of his former writing colleague on The Bulletin magazine - the very same Tony Abbott who had led the centre-right Liberals back into power in 2013 before being ousted by his communications minister, Mr Turnbull.

Dutton, who is perhaps best known for his hard-line stance on immigration, must produce a petition signed by a majority of party members to force a leadership contest.

Voters expect that they will get to judge their leaders at the ballot box.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has also said he will contest the leadership of the Liberal Party, the senior partner in the Australian coalition government.

Many were surprised that he only lost by a 48-35 vote since he hadn't started canvassing support in earnest.

Labor has already released conflicting advice and leading constitutional lawyers have described the case as a grey area.

"If anyone needs to depart from this place, it is not the parliament, it is this government of Australia who has lost the confidence not just of its own backbench, not just of the opposition, you've lost the confidence of everyday Australians".

"On political tactics, no, I wouldn't presume to know enough about the internal things in the Liberal Party to give anybody any advice about what to do next".

Donaghue said Dutton's case was impossible to predict because the facts are "unlike those that have previously been assessed" by the high court and there is "significant division" on the court about section 44 (v).

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