Malcolm Turnbull's telco, cybersecurity ministers quit

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Malcolm Turnbull's telco, cybersecurity ministers quit
Malcolm Turnbull

Three senior ministers charged with running Australia's telecommunications, cyber security and digital portfolios have formally resigned from their positions amid the chaos over leadership of the Liberal Party.

Communications minister Mitch Fifield fronted media this morning to announce his resignation from the ministry alongside finance minister Mathias Cormann and jobs minister Michaelia Cash. Cormann told press that the trio had informed prime minister Malcolm Turnbull that they believe he no longer had the support of the majority of Liberal Party members.

Fifield took over the communications portfolio from Turnbull when he ascended to the prime ministership in September 2015, responsible for Australia's ICT and telecommunications sectors, including the NBN.

The spate of resignations come two days after former home affairs minister Peter Dutton called for a leadership challenge, taking on Turnbull for leadership of the Liberal Party, which Turnbull won 45 votes to 38.

Cybersecurity minister Angus Taylor and assistant digital transformation minister Michael Keenan also tendered their resignations to this morning, joining the list of now 12 ministers that have resigned from their portfolios in the wake of Tuesday's leadership spill.

Taylor wrote in his resignation letter that the reason for his departure was on the basis of his support for Dutton.

"I have previously relayed to you my concerns about the direction of this government, and my views on the policies that should characterise a traditional centre-right Liberal Party. I remain steadfast in my view that these changes are critical to the future of the government and the nation," Taylor said.

Kennan expressed similar concerns on Twitter after his resignation. "With a heavy heart, I have handed my resignation to Malcolm Turnbull. It has been a great honour to serve, but it has become clear that he’s lost the support of the Liberal Party room. In the best interests of all Australians, it’s important that the leadership is now resolved."

Despite winning the first leadership challenge, the prime minister also faced media today to tell reporters that he would call a party room meeting on Friday if Dutton is able to produce a petition indicating he is supported by a majority of members.

Turnbull indicated that if another spill does occur, he will not challenge again for leadership and will instead quit parliament, which would trigger a by-election in his Wentworth seat.

Whatever the outcome, the prime minister will have to reshuffle their cabinet, meaning senior portfolios will be up for grabs. The government today voted to adjourn parliament for the next two weeks until the leadership fracas is sorted out, so we could see an all-new government ministry by then.

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