Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott,
who came to power in September 2013, on Monday lost a challenge to
his leadership to Malcolm Turnbull, a former investment banker and
The vote of Liberal Party lawmakers was
the second challenge Abbott faced in seven months.
The 60-year-old Turnbull, a moderate,
will now lead the conservative Liberal Party.
“My pledge today is to make this
change as easy as I can,” Turnbull told reporters.
Abbott had ruled out allowing his
coalition lawmakers to vote with their conscience on the issue of
marriage equality, effectively killing any legislation on the issue.
However, Turnbull, who has spoken in
favor of allowing lawmakers a free vote on marriage legislation, said
during a press conference that the government will not change its
plans to hold a public vote on he issue next year.
“The coalition, our government, has
decided that the resolution of this matter will be determined by a
vote of the people, all the people, via a plebiscite, to be held
after the next election,” he said. “If we are re-elected to
government, every single Australian will have a say.”