Australian PM Tony Abbott survives bid to unseat him

Feb 09, 2015, 09:15 IST | PTI

Sydney: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott today survived a confidence vote on his leadership after just 17 months in power, despite a disastrous new poll showing his popularity plunging.

Abbott has been fighting for his job after poor ratings and a series of policy backflips spurred some MPs from his conservative Liberal Party openly to attack him, calling for a leadership "spill" last week. The motion aimed to declare vacant the positions of party leader and deputy leader currently occupied by Abbott and Deputy Prime Minister Julie Bishop.

If it had succeeded, the party room, or Liberal Party members of both houses of Parliament, could vote for new candidates for the jobs. But the 101 Liberal parliamentarians -- one was absent -- rejected the proposal by 61 to 39 in a secret ballot.

"The Liberal Party has met, we have had a ballot, it was properly conducted. The result is very clear. No 61. Yes 39," said chief whip Philip Ruddock. "That seems to me to resolve the matter." Abbott, who has vowed to change the way he conducts himself, addressed the party room after the vote and then walked out surrounded by colleagues before federal parliament sits for the first time this year.

He made no immediate comment. The 57-year-old survived despite a dire Newspoll in The Australian broadsheet and the vote outcome is unlikely to end speculation about his future.

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