Worried Liberals urge Turnbull to step forward

WORRIED Liberals are urging Malcolm Turnbull to declare his intention to challenge Tony Abbott before Tuesday's proposed leadership spill, to give the party a clear choice between staying with the Prime Minister or opting for a new direction.

"Malcolm needs to step forward, sending out hints isn't going to cut it when the stakes for everyone else are this high," said one MP.

The plea followed a Fairfax Media report revealing the Communications Minister's closest supporters are confident he will contest the leadership in a head-to-head race with Mr Abbott, but only if the spill motion is successful.

Mr Turnbull spent the day inside his Point Piper house. His wife, Lucy, emerged to advise a media pack that he would not be making a statement.

Momentum to dump the Prime Minister appeared to be slowing through Saturday, prompting increased optimism by Mr Abbott who declared he expects to defeat the spill motion and would interpret that win as a vote of confidence in his leadership.

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