Local MPs rally round new PM

MALCOLM Turnbull is Australia's fifth Prime Minister in the past five years after a Liberal leadership spill ousted Tony Abbott last night.

Mr Turnbull won the vote 54-44 in an outcome, which bookies predicted and which they say will lead to a comfortable Coalition win at the next federal election due by November next year.

He walked to the vote with Longman MP Wyatt Roy at his side and Fisher MP Mal Brough at his back in a tight phalanx that contrasted with the 20 or so MPs who walked with Mr Abbott.

Mr Turnbull's deputy will be Julie Bishop, who threw her weight behind Mr Turnbull's candidacy yesterday afternoon, telling Mr Abbott she could no longer serve under him.

Ms Bishop convincingly beat Kevin Andrews 70-30 to retain her position.

Mr Abbott brought the leadership vote on last night following two hours of discussions with advisors and supporters after Mr Turnbull advised him he would challenge for the leadership.

Immediately after he announced a challenge to Mr Abbott's leadership Sportsbet.com.au quoted Mr Turnbull at the short odds of $1.10 with the Prime Minister at $6 to retain the top job.

Perhaps more tellingly Sportsbet.com.au wound the Coalition in from $1.73 to $1.50 to win the next election with Labor blowing out to $2.65 from $2.15. Immediately after the result was announced last night the Coalition firmed further to $1.40 and Labor out to $2.75.

Ugly words were spoken ahead of the vote with former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett labelling Mr Turnbull a "turkey" and describing the challenge as an act of gross disloyalty.

Former long-serving Coalition Member for Fairfax Alex Somlyay has called on Mr Abbott to quit politics to give the new Prime Minister clear air.

Mr Somlyay said he did not believe Mr Turnbull would have challenged for the Liberal Party leadership without the numbers to win.

"It's what Julia Gillard did,'' he said. "You have to give the leader clean air and it's what should happen in the current situation.

"The king is dead, long live the king.''

Mr Somlyay said survival was the most basic of human instincts and it was clear there were growing numbers on the back bench who had come to realise they wouldn't survive the next election with Mr Abbott as leader.

LNP insiders on the Sunshine Coast said the significance of Mr Turnbull's visit here two weeks ago should not be under-estimated.

One party member said Mr Turnbull's appearance at endorsed Fairfax candidate Ted O'Brien's campaign launch was very much about solidifying support.

After that function Mr Turnbull met Fisher MP Mal Brough and a small group of small business people for a coffee and a chat at B-Fresh, Warana.

"It was a quiet gathering,'' one source said. "It was a $4 cup of coffee, not a $10,000 a plate dinner.

"The view is that the electorate loves him (Mr Turnbull) and the grass roots, small "L" party members have always wanted him.

"People in the branches at the grass roots have wanted him for a long time, but not the party hierarchy.''

Mr O'Brien was processing the news of the challenge when he spoke to the Daily late yesterday.

"I trust the collective wisdom of the party now to get this decision right," the LNP-endorsed candidate for Fairfax said.

"No matter which way it goes, it's time a line is drawn under the personalities of politics and the focus shifts back to the Australian people, the economy and our safety and security as a nation and restoring faith and confidence in the future and the system of government that will help us get there," Mr O'Brien said.

"We need to restore faith in politics and public institutions and that starts by putting people and communities at the epicentre of public debate."

LNP's Member for Longman, Wyatt Roy, yesterday spoke to the ABC and said he believed there had to be a change in the way government engaged with the community.

"We need to change the way we do business," he said.

"We need to have innovation and entrepreneurship in this country."

Endorsed Labor candidate for Fisher Bill Gissane said from where he sat not a great deal had changed.

"He (Turnbull) is closely associated with the Abbott government, Scott Morrison might or might not run, and we don't know where Julie Bishop stands,'' Mr Gissane said.

"It might be good for Mal Brough. Clearly Mr Abbott is not his greatest supporter."

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