Reportedly, the Dutton camp had not expected Turnbull to bring on a Tuesday vote.
Dutton was the first Minister for Home Affairs, engineering the merger of the super portfolio which essentially made him Australia's inaugural King Cop.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott - the man knocked off in a leadership challenge by Mr Turnbull - has been the most vocal critic of the energy policy.
Turnbull threw all leadership positions in the Liberal Party open early Tuesday, inviting challengers to nominate themselves for party leader.
Mr Dutton has now resigned from his Home Affairs portfolio, creating a big gap in Cabinet that Mr Turnbull will have to fill.
Turnbull's move may relieve immediate pressure on his leadership, though internal peace is seen as fragile as the government's re-election prospects look dim.
"I think there might be a second phase strategy here".
"My view is my view", he said when asked where his personal support lay.
Serena Williams falls to Petra Kvitova in Western & Southern Open second round
Kei Nishikori beat Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-3, and 13th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta topped Richard Gasquet 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Keys, the 11th seed, fired 13 aces as she eliminated fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 3-6 6-7 (3) 6-4.
Such a situation occurred when Turnbull took the leadership from Abbott, with an "empty chair" challenge in February 2015 returning Abbott but a September 2015 challenge seeing Turnbull take the top job.
On Monday, Mr Turnbull attempted to blunt conflict within the government by abandoning plans to set an emissions reduction target in legislation.
"That is what people are telling me and that is what the government wants to do", he said.
The prime minister of Australia was fighting for his political life last night as conservative backbench MPs plotted to topple him.
Mr Turnbull said he would not proceed with the emissions target - part of his National Energy Guarantee (NEG) - because it had no prospect of passing through the House of Representatives, where he has only a slim majority.
All leadership positions were declared vacant before the vote, but Julie Bishop also remains as deputy after an uncontested vote.
Gary Spence, LNP president in Queensland, urged federal MPs to replace Mr Turnbull with Mr Dutton, arguing he would do better at defending the Coalition's nine marginal seats in the state.
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