New South Wales Liberal MP Joe Hockey has announced today that he will challenge Malcolm Turnbull for his position as Liberal Party leader tomorrow if a spill motion is made.
Former challenger and the instigator of the second Liberal Party leadership spill in one week Tony Abbott has withdrawn his challenge for the position. Abbott has reinforced since announcing the spill that he will only stand for the position as long as there are no other challengers.
The move is an about face for Hockey, who said that he would only stand for the position if Turnbull were to resign. Hockey has frequently stated that he supports the ETS, and also that he supports Turnbull's leadership.
A Nielsen poll conducted last Friday and Saturday showed that Hockey leads Turnbull in public support by 4% with a 36% approval rating. Abbott only received 20% approval.
Former Liberal Foreign Minister Alexandra Downer has said that Hockey would win the spill, lashing out at Turnbull on the radio station 3AW saying that “you [Turnbull] do have to remember you are the leader of the whole party, not just some of it”.
If Hockey wins the spill he will be inheriting a party still divided over the human contribution to climate change. It is this that presently plagues Malcolm Turnbull.
The disharmony within the Liberal party has hardly affected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, whose Newspoll approval rating results have remained static. The Labor Party two-party preferred and Rudd's "Better PM" rating have risen by one and two percent respectively.