After his narrow win in Tuesday morning’s leadership vote, Malcolm Turnbull has plenty of work ahead of him to re-unite the Liberal Party and get the government back on track.
Mr Turnbull declared the Liberal leadership vacant at a party room meeting on Tuesday.
Former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, who had been widely expected to challenge for the top job, did so. Mr Turnbull won the subsequent ballot by 45 votes to 38 – a narrow win that means his job is safe, for now.
The whole leadership spill reportedly took only 14 minutes from start to finish. Shortly after, Mr Dutton resigned as minister, meaning one of Mr Turnbull’s top priorities now will be to reshuffle his ministry.
Four other front-benchers are considered likely to follow Mr Dutton in resigning. That means Mr Turnbull has a major reshuffle on his hands.
There is also speculation that he might call a federal election in a bid to focus the minds of Liberal MPs, unify the party and ensure no further bloodletting. An election is due by May 2019.
Monday’s capitulation on the National Energy Guarantee provided the final impetus for Tuesday’s leadership spill. Mr Turnbull is also staring down the likely failure of the government’s proposed corporate tax cuts in the Senate.
This means he needs a fresh economic agenda, while also trying to rebuild bridges with the 35 LIberal MPs who voted against him on Tuesday.
It is also possible that Peter Dutton’s forces might consolidate and have another crack at the leadership. This has occurred in past leadership challenges.
Parliament wraps up for the week on Thursday and does not return until September 10. Mr Turnbull then heads to South-East Asia next week for trade and security talks.
Meanwhile, a fresh Newspoll is due out on Monday. The Liberals have trailed Labor in 38 Newspolls in a row, and the result is unlikely to be different next week following the turmoil of this week.
Mr Turnbull does have a strong record in Newspolls of staying ahead of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister.