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Pressure increases on Abbott

Malcolm Turnbull
AAP
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As speculation grows of a possible leadership challenge to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the man many Australians want in the top job is doing his best to avoid the talk.

For the second straight day, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull declined to speak to the media.

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In Los Angeles as part of the G’Day USA promotion, Turnbull gave a speech on Friday at the UCLA campus titled Assessing the Future of the Asia-Pacific.

At a question-and-answer session following the address, the audience was asked to “confine your questions to the speech and what we are discussing here at the conference today”.

His minders told reporters he would not be available for questions.

A recent Seven News ReachTEL poll found Turnbull was the top choice to lead the coalition, with more than 44.6 per cent of respondents backing him with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on 31 per cent and Abbott languishing at 18 per cent.

Reports of backbenchers getting nervous about Abbott’s leadership grew the past week when the prime minister made the unpopular decision to award a knighthood to Prince Philip.

Turnbull and Bishop have been approached by party colleagues to challenge Abbott, according to reports.

 

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