Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull's leadership far from certain, despite tense victory

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has survived a tense leadership challenge, but his future in the top job is far from certain. 

The 63-year-old called a snap leadership vote on Tuesday morning that saw dozens of his supporters abandon him for Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

Mr Turnbull walked away wounded but managed a smile, and was determined to fight on.

When asked by a reporter his reaction to the over-arching sentiment that he's just a "dead man walking", Mr Turnbull said he "can't agree with you, and the results of the ballot would demonstrate that". 

That ballot hours earlier, falling in the Prime Minister's favour. He was elected leader of the Liberal Party by a margin of 48 votes to 35. 

After days of speculation it was Mr Turnbull himself who called the spill, and there was only one challenger, Mr Dutton: The same Minister who at the weekend publicly declared his support for the PM.

"I don't bear any grudge against Peter Dutton for standing up and challenging me today, ad in fact I invited him to stay in his position," said Mr Turnbull. 

Mr Turnbull may have survived the leadership challenge, but there's still troubling times ahead for the Australian Prime Minister, with speculation there could be another challenge in the coming weeks.

Surviving one challenge doesn't mean he'll see out another.

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard won her first challenge from Kevin Rudd by 40 votes, but she was then defeated second time round.

Malcolm Turnbull is now making a desperate call for unity.

"As I said in the party room today, we cannot allow internal issues to determine our work," Mr Turnbull said. "Australians expect to be focussed on them." 

Mr Dutton's failed challenge has seen him resign from cabinet, and now it's expected he'll cause trouble form the backbenches. But he's promising to behave. 

Back in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is confident a new Home Affairs and Immigration Minister won't alter the Trans-Tasman relationship.

"Regardless of who will replace Mr Dutton and portfolios we will be looking for the same constructive relationship and continue to raise the same issues we always have," he said. 

But in Australia, the last thing on Mr Turnbull's mind is foreign relations. He is still Prime Minister, but the question now is: for how long?