Malcolm Turnbull ousts Tony Abbott to become new Australian Prime Minister

The Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull beat Tony Abbott by 54 votes to 44 in a snap Liberal Party leadership ballot.

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

The Liberal Party – and consequently, Australia – has a new leader after Tony Abbott was challenged to the top post this week by his own Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in what is known as a "leadership spill".

The vote by Liberal MPs was 54-44 to Turnbull, therefore granting him majority support among his parliamentary colleagues. Deputy Leader Julie Bishop survived her own challenge, against Kevin Andrews.

Abbott has overseen a continuous stream of errors during his short-lived tenure, from reversing his election promise of no cuts to the public broadcasters, to the award of a knighthood to Prince Philip. Many accused the former PM of being out of touch after this, but he survived in February, 61 votes to 39 in a similar challenge.

Although many fellow conservatives dislike Turnbull for his support for gay marriage and climate change intervention, he has previously held the leadership between 2008 and 2009, losing to Abbott by just one vote.

It remains to be seen whether Abbott will return to the backbenches quietly, or challenge Turnbull again in the future, in what would be a repeat of the back-and-forth contests between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd from the previous Labour government.

Emad Ahmed writes about science and gaming. He tweets @ThisIsEmad.