Down-turn Abbott: Aussie leader in serious danger of being toppled
The latest pressure comes after state elections in Queensland. Preliminary results had the Liberal-National government in a shock loss to Labor. The final result is not yet clear under the complex preferential voting system, but Labor is likely to win 45 or 46 of the 89 seats in the usually-conservative state, after going into the poll holding only nine seats.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports Mal Brough, a cabinet minister under John Howard, is lining up for a tilt at the leadership of Mr Abbott's Liberal party.
Mr Brough did not deny the report. The paper regards him as a stalking horse for two more serious candidates: foreign minister Julie Bishop and communications/ICT minister Malcolm Turnbull.
A recent News Corp poll had Mr Abbott's coaltion government trailing Labor 57% to 43% in first voting preference, leading MPs in his own party to opening ridicule Mr Abbott.
The PM is struggling with a downturn in the economy with energy and resource prices trailing off, but has also been attacked for series of blunders, the most recent being the award of a Knighthood to Prince Philip on Austalia Day.