Supporters of Peter Dutton are calling for a party room meeting to be held tonight, with a petition reportedly circulating around Parliament House.

The intent of the petition is to ask Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to call a second meeting to spill the leadership of the Liberal Party.

David Speers is Sky News is reporting a challenge could come as soon as tonight.

But soon reported the meeting would not go ahead this evening.


Reports followed that a petition to call a leadership spill is making the rounds in Parliament House tonight, but Julie Bishop was quick to deny rumours of an imminent party room meeting.

Throughout the afternoon, rumours have surfaced of an upcoming party room meeting with the agenda of replacing Malcolm Turnbull.

Appearing on The Project, the Deputy leader said she was "not aware of any such moves", noting she'd be hosting Winston Peters at a working dinner tonight.

"I haven't heard anything about this," she said.

Asked if she could guarantee Turnbull would be PM in the morning, Bishop said: "It's 6.30, the house rises shortly, everybody has events on this evening.

"I have been through a number of leadership challenges and I have observed them on the other side. Some of them are won by one vote. The prime minister was endorsed."

When asked why the party was "so sexist" that Bishop's name wasn't on the list of potential leaders, she said: "I have been elected as deputy by the party room. It's not a position I take for granted. I appreciate their support. I get on with my job as the deputy and also as Foreign Minister which is a very demanding job representing Australia's interests overseas."

Will 'The Cormannator' terminate Turnbull?

The fate of Turnbull may be down to one man, says the lucky country's national broadcaster.


And that man is the WA senator they call "The Cormannator", according to ABC political editor Andrew Probyn.

If Australia's Finance Minister and Senate Government leader Mathias Cormann decides to abandon Turnbull's prime ministership in favour of supporting his best mate Peter Dutton, the latter may well become Australia's 30th prime minister, Probyn wrote this afternoon.

However, the Belgian-born Cormann, who the ABC described as "the Kingmaker" made it clear today that he is standing by Turnbull.

"I have served Malcolm loyally ever since and I will continue to serve him loyally into the future," he said.

Probyn said the Liberals estimate Cormann, who has been conspicuously quiet in recent days, has the power to bring 10 votes to the Dutton camp.

And he points out that Cormann and Dutton are not only best mates, they have also worked tirelessly to shore up Turnbull's prime ministership and lend it a conservative veneer.

Probyn said Cormann "has desperately sought to make the Turnbull administration work.

"He has negotiated legislative victories with patience and renowned courtesy. He and Mr Dutton have been Mr Turnbull's conservative Praetorian Guard."

And, Australian media commentators believe Cormann's leadership position means he could not vote for Dutton yesterday.

But Probyn wrote this afternoon that that may be about to change, and if it does, he said, "it is game over for the Prime Minister".

The Sydney Morning Herald, however, which predicted as early as July 31 that Australia faces a fresh outbreak of political instability, even suggested then that the Cormannator may be a good replacement himself for Turnbull.

It quoted University of Western Australia Politics Professor's Peter van Onselen's survey following Australia's recent byelections, of the "serious flaws" of likely Turnbull challengers.

Tony Abbott, for example, was seen as "well and truly yesterday's man".

The list of flawed contenders also included Finance Minister Cormann himself.

But his flaw, according to van Onselen, was that he is "in the wrong chamber".

The newspaper pointed out, though, that there has been a precedent for a Senate Leader becoming Prime Minister.

Half a century ago, following the disappearance of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt while swimming near Portsea, Victoria, on December 17, 1967, Senator John Gorton became leader of the federal Liberal Party, then becoming PM in early 1968 after resigning from the Senate followed by a byelection in which he filled the vacancy in the House of Representatives caused by Holt's disappearance.

Abbott blasts Turnbull as 'desperate incumbent'

Tony Abbott has blasted Turnbull on 2GB, calling the Prime Minister a "desperate incumbent".

"It's no big secret that I'm no fan of the incumbent," he said of the leader.

He also said it was "strange" the Prime Minister referred Dutton to the solicitor-general, saying it was either "dirty tricks" by Labor, or — in a not-so-subtle jab at Turnbull — "one last throw from a despairing incumbent".

Asked if he would return to cabinet if Dutton becomes PM, Abbott said: "I don't do deals, Ben (Fordham). I don't do deals. I ask for nothing, I expect nothing.

"I suspect that the average person looking at this says, 'The politicians, there they go again, it's another circus'. Sometimes some difficult things have got to be done in order to resume getting the important things done.

"But in the end, I'm just one member of the party room, I can't resolve it."

Dutton 'working the phones' to become PM

Just a day after Dutton said he would go quietly to the backbench, the former home affairs minister has revealed he is "working the phones" to win the prime ministership.

News Corp reported that it understands Dutton's camp claims to have 40 out of 43 votes needed to call another Liberal party room meeting, which could happen as soon as this afternoon or tomorrow.

Other names are also being thrown around, including Scott Morrison and Julie Bishop, but Morrison has rejected that idea, saying he fully supports Turnbull in several interviews today and during a media conference called this afternoon.

Turnbull called the cringe-worthy conference alongside Finance Minister Mathias Cormann to admit defeat after one of their signature economic reforms — tax cuts for big business — was killed in the Senate.

The embarrassing podium performance outside Parliament House involved an awkward hug from Morrison when asked if he could rule out any leadership ambitions.

"This is my leader and I'm ambitious for him," he said as he put his arm around Turnbull.

Dutton's policy plans he announced this morning were quashed by the trio, namely his move to remove the GST from power bills, which would mean an automatic 10 per cent reduction.

Morrison said such a proposal would cost about $7.5 billion over four years.

"That would be a Budget blower, an absolute Budget blower," he said.

"And you can make all sorts of promises about how much money you're going to spend, but at the end of the day, you've got to account for it."

Turnbull said the plan was certainly very expensive and the states would expect to be reimbursed as a result.

He kicked off the conference announcing his government would not be taking tax cuts for larger companies to the next election.

In another body blow for Turnbull the Senate voted down his signature company tax cut policy by 36 votes to 30 today.

"We are going to review our enterprise tax plan in so far as it applies to small and medium businesses and focus on how we can provide enhanced support, or perhaps an acceleration of the tax cuts for the small and medium businesses," he said.

He also said they would not move to repeal the energy supplement for welfare recipients.

Turnbull said he was not anticipating another leadership challenge this week.

Speaking to 3AW this morning, Dutton said he was campaigning to gain the numbers to run a second successful challenge against Turnbull.

"You don't go into a ballot believing you're going to lose and if I believe that a majority of colleagues support me, then I would consider my position," he said.

"Of course I am (working the phones). I'm speaking to colleagues. I'm not going to beat around the bush with that."

The would-be Liberal leader has also unveiled his grand plans to save Australia in a bid to win over voters, including a Royal Commission into the energy and fuel companies he thinks are rorting the country because Australians are paying some of the highest energy bills in the world.

- Additional reporting