U-turns leave Malcolm Turnbull on the ropes and facing coup

Australia waters down commitment to climate accord amid domestic political fight

UPDATE 1-Australia weakens commitment to climate accord after government fractures

Mr Turnbull's original energy policy, which was trying to deliver cheaper energy, more reliability and lower emissions, enjoyed broad support - even in his party room.

"I think the real game here, and hold on to your seats people, is about a return of Tony Abbott after an election defeat next year when he rises from the ashes".

While several backers of Mr Dutton have admitted to a "wait and see approach", nine cabinet ministers were ready to get behind the Home Affairs Minister - half of cabinet's 18 Liberals, The Australian reported.

"I've spoken to him directly and he's told me he supports Malcolm Turnbull", Pyne said.

In a vote carried out this morning, Mr Turnbull won the challenge to decide the leadership of the Liberal Party and the government 48 votes to 35, after earlier declaring the Liberal leadership vacant.

In a move that repeats the pattern of previous leadership spills such as Paul Keating's two ballots against Bob Hawke during 1991, Mr Dutton has resigned from cabinet and go to the backbench to consider his next steps.

Three years later, Australia's first woman prime minister was gone when Rudd finally took his revenge after a failed 2012 coup attempt.

Chief government whip Nola Marino announced the close margin at the tense party room meeting which has been labelled a "humiliation" for Turnbull with a frontbench who does not support him. I think he probably still is.

But Treasurer Scott Morrison said was "fully supportive" of the Prime Minister.

"In politics you have to focus on what you can deliver", Mr Turnbull told reporters on Monday.

Conservatives in his coalition were reportedly sounding out colleagues for a possible leadership challenge before Turnbull on Monday announced the removal of emission reduction targets from the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) policy.

"We are not going to propose legislation purely for the goal of it being defeated", he said.

With both leadership positions spilled, the foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop's position as deputy Liberal leader was also opened, but she was the only one to nominate and was therefore re-elected.

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