Pressure is building in the Liberal Party for another tilt at removing Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
News outlets have reported that Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been told he has the numbers to topple the PM and should use them.
Mr Abbott survived a move on his leadership earlier this month, when a motion to spill the position failed 39 votes to 61.
That was without a challenger to Mr Abbott.
Mr Turnbull, regarded as the most likely leadership contender, didn’t stand or even indicate where he stood on the leadership.
After that party room meeting, the Prime Minister declared that “good government starts today”.
However, there is now open despair in Coalition ranks, even among those who supported the Prime Minister in the leadership spill.
Liberals talk of little else and worry that there will be permanent brand damage if Mr Abbott stays.
Shortly after Thursday’s report surfaced, the hashtag #libspill2 started trending across Australia on Twitter.
As he left Parliament on Thursday, Liberal MP Rowan Ramsey was questioned about whether Mr Abbott would lead the Government to the next election.
“Who knows, I mean we are falling in behind Tony, we’ve had that day in the party room,” he said.
“Not everybody’s happy all the time but that’s life.”
Another backbencher, Russell Broadbent, reiterated that Mr Abbott had qualified support.
“He’s been given time, the time that he’s been given is – he’s on a test at all times – so every Prime Minister is,” he said, adding there was “no deadline”.
However, one government insider and Abbott supporter said Mr Turnbull didn’t have the numbers.
He said this latest leadership speculation was down to the same few disaffected MPs as last time, who were trying to beat up support for Mr Turnbull.
“The vast majority of people know we can’t win the election with Malcolm as leader, because with Malcolm as leader we would lose a chunk of our base and no party has ever won an election without its base,” he told AAP.
– ABC, with AAP