The party infighting over energy policy risks tipping the nation into a renewed period of political chaos and revolving door leadership that's seen Australia switch prime ministers five times since 2007.
The change follows a revolt by conservative members of parliament against Turnbull's energy policy, and some Liberals have threatened to cross the party line. "We will not hesitate to use a big stick as we did with gas to make sure the big companies do the right thing".
Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said earlier Mr Dutton had told him the prime minister has his absolute support.
"The problem is that Bill Shorten would be a disastrous prime minister of this country and I believe I had the best prospect of leading the Liberal party to success at the next election".
Time will be the telling factor now as to how long Mr Turnbull can keep his hold as leader or if history will repeat itself and yet another Australian Prime Minister is ousted.
Conservatives, led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who committed Australia to the Paris accord when he led the country, argue reducing emissions puts Australia at an economic disadvantage after the United States withdrew from the Paris accord in 2017. Turnbull today confirmed reports that he had asked Dutton to stay on in the portfolio, but Dutton refused.
A by-election in Wentworth would also complicate matters in any change of leader.
The backstabbing followed a period of political stability, with former Prime Minister John Howard enjoying almost 12 years in office, coming after a five-year stint for Labor's Paul Keating and eight years previously for Bob Hawke.
Mr Turnbull's support as preferred prime minister dived from 57 to 48, with Bill Shorten's rating improving by six points to 36 per cent.
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Had just seven votes gone the other way, he would have lost office, and so the talk in Canberra has been when, not if, a second challenge would come.
We don't take it for granted, but what I say to all those who didn't vote for the Prime Minister; we now have the opportunity to focus on what the electorate want to hear from us.
I have to say that I can't agree with you there and the results of the ballot demonstrate that.
Mr Dutton resigned from Cabinet after the vote and will move to the backbench, triggering a ministerial reshuffle.
He said the NEG would still require electricity retailers to cap their prices and provide more "reliable" streams of power.
In his parliamentary register of interest, Mr Dutton lists himself as a beneficiary of RHT Family Trust - along with his wife and children.
"The legislation to move forward with the emissions component of the National Energy Guarantee will not be able to pass the House of Representatives", Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.
Liberal MPs are expected to rally behind Malcolm Turnbull as conservatives continue to grumble about the direction of the party. "I think he's a very matured, well-managed man and I think he could handle the position of PM very well", she said.
Outgoing prime minister Bob Hawke waves goodbye to the media after being defeated by Paul Keating in a leadership challenge in December 1991.
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