By Angela Dorizas
Malcolm Turnbull has maintained the Liberal leadership following a failed motion to vacate the seat of the Opposition Leader.
Mr Turnbull called a party meeting this afternoon to vote on a spill motion put by backbencher Wilson Tuckey. Howard government minister Kevin Andrews said he would challenge Mr Turnbull for leadership of the party.
Chief Opposition whip Alex Somlyay announced that a secret ballot was held and the motion was rejected by 48 to 35 votes.
Mr Andrews accepted the result, but warned that the party had sent a “very clear message” in regards to Mr Turnbull’s decision to support the Government’s amended emissions trading scheme (ETS).
“I believe this sends a very clear message to the Liberal Party that there has been deep concern about the way things have occurred over the last few weeks,” he said.
“There is a degree of concern on the part of many of my colleagues. I think there is a clear message out of that and I hope it’s heeded all round.”
Mr Andrews said he supported Mr Turnbull as the party leader, but did not rule out a future challenge.
“We’ll see what happens in the future,” he said.
“I will continue to make a contribution to the party. I’m in it for the long haul.”
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said the results today were “almost identical” to the ETS vote in Coalition meetings yesterday.
“There was no surprise on the numbers,” Mr Hockey said.
“Given the mood of the party…it was a very good result”
Mr Hockey said the Opposition Leader was “very humble” during the meeting.
“Malcolm recognised as leader he could have handled this better,” he said.
“It takes a leader to be able to admit when they’ve got it wrong.”
Mr Hockey said the leadership debate had done “incredible damage” to the party.
“I hope the Australian people forgive us for this very public display.”
Earlier today, three Liberal parliamentary secretaries quit the frontbench in protest against Mr Turnbull’s decision for the Opposition to vote in favour of the ETS.
Mathias Cormann, Mitch Fifield and Brett Mason handed over letters of resignation to Mr Turnbull this morning.
In a joint statement, the shadow parliamentary secretaries said the ETS was not in Australia’s national interest.
“We believe that Labor’s ETS risks Australian jobs and Australia’s standard of living for no environmental benefit,” they said.
“Our decision is made with regret but also in clear conscience.”
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