A Member of Parliament from the governing Liberal Party in Australia has announced he will initiate a leadership challenge next week to unseat Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
West Australian MP Luke Simpkins emailed colleagues saying he would make the move at a meeting of Liberal lawmakers set for Tuesday (Feb 10). "I think we must bring this to a head and test the support of the leadership," he wrote in the email, which was circulated on social media.
"I look forward to your support in this matter. It gives you all an opportunity to either endorse the Prime Minister or to seek a new direction. As I have said in the past, I have no front-bench ambitions. I do this because I believe it is in the best interests of the people of our country."
A secret ballot is expected to be held where MPs will cast their vote for leadership of the party. The Chief Government Whip Philip Ruddock confirmed the Prime Minister has accepted the motion.
"I have received the motion from Luke Simpkins, seconded by Don Randall, proposing 'that the Liberal Party Room resolve, via secret ballot, that the senior positions of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party be declared vacant'," said Mr Ruddock in a press release.
No rivals have put their names forward to contest the ballot. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who are believed to be the most likely contenders, have both told media they will not challenge for the position.
Prime Minister Abbott has faced increasing speculation about his future after a number of party backbenchers openly revolted against him and said he longer had their support. Fading poll numbers and policy backflips have angered some members of the party, while last month's decision to award the British royal has brought matters to ahead.
Mr Abbott has promised greater consultation and an end to some of his more controversial policies.