The State Of Play Right Now In #LibSpill
It's now potentially a four-way contest for the top job.
If you're confused about what exactly is going on in Canberra, you're not alone.
It's been a long few days in parliament, with a failed leadership challenge from Peter Dutton, mass ministerial resignations and Dutton now calling for a second vote. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Thursday he wants to have proof that a majority of colleagues want him gone before he calls another vote.
So what can happen from here? What are the options? And how close are we to a potential Prime Minister Dutton? Here are the possibilities at this stage.
New vote, PM Dutton
At this point, this seems the most likely option. Dutton is calling for a second challenge, and momentum for a second vote seems to be building.
Dutton supporters started circulating a petition on Wednesday night for a new meeting, and as of Thursday afternoon, Sky News reported they were closing in on 40 of the 43 signatures needed.
If the Turnbull opponents can get 43 signatures, Turnbull said he will allow a vote, not run for the leadership himself, and drop out of parliament. That would likely see Dutton take the win, and have a free few weeks as PM before parliament returns in mid-September.
If there is a vote to be held, it will be at 12pm on Friday.
New vote, PM somebody else
As above, but with someone else in the PM chair at the end of the week. No other contenders have officially and publicly thrown their hat in the ring yet, but reports say Scott Morrison and Julie Bishop are keen to run.
Morrison and Bishop might end up pinching votes from each other though, diluting their support and meaning Dutton could get the majority of votes.
This could happen too. Turnbull said he would only allow a vote if a majority of the party wanted one. If 42 or fewer people sign that petition by Friday, we're unlikely to see a vote allowed by the PM.
Another option in this case includes Dutton's section 44 constitution issues. Turnbull has said he wants to see solicitor-general advice on Friday morning on Dutton's interests in childcare centres. It's unclear what Turnbull would do if the SG advice came back negative for Dutton and also 43 signatures were collected -- but we could see a situation where Turnbull could decline to hold another vote.
"I cannot underline too much how important it is that anyone who seeks to be Prime Minister of Australia is eligible to be a member of Parliament because a minister, let alone a Prime Minister, who is not eligible to sit in the House is not capable of validly being a minister or exercising any of the powers of a minister," Turnbull said.
This could be the end outcome of a few of these above options. Labor is calling for the government to go to the polls and gain a mandate to lead. Considering the drama that has engulfed and shattered the Liberals in recent days and weeks, it would be a brave person to bet that the party could regain government.
But considering the turmoil, it may be the only option to head off the unrest and chaos.