Australian prime minister Tony Abbott is to resign the premiership of Australia after he was ousted as Liberal leader following an internal party coup.
Malcolm Turnbull, former communications minister in Abbott’s cabinet, beat former prime minister 54 votes to 44 in a ballot over leadership of the Liberals, Australia’s centre-right party, on Monday.
Turnbull had challenged Abbott to the ballot following prime minister’s questions, in the culmination to months of squabbling within the party and damning opinion polls for the Liberal leader.
Julie Bishop, the deputy leader of the Liberals, will remain on as deputy following a similar vote.
Explaining his decision to challenge the (now former) prime minister before the vote, Turnbull said:
“It is clear enough that the government is not successful in providing the economic leadership that we need. It is not the fault of individual ministers, ultimately the prime minister has not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs; he has not been capable of providing the economic confidence that business needs.”
He went on the attack the opposition and Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten for his opposition to the Chinese-Australia free trade agreement, which Shorten had described as a “dud deal”.
Taking to Twitter to attack Turnbull’s coup, the Labor press team said that Australia did not need “another out of touch, arrogant, Liberal leader.”
The Abbott coup marks the second time in less than four years that an Australian prime minister has been ousted in an internal party squabble, former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard having been deposed by Kevin Rudd in 2013, who subsequently lost a general election to Abbott later that year.
In mocking tributes to Abbott Australians took to Twitter to post pictures of onions, a reference to cricketer Phillip Hughes – whose death during a game last year led to people posting pictures of cricket bats online – and a picture of Abbott from earlier this year eating a raw onion.
Image Credit – Tony Abbott caricature by DonkeyHotey