SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday he would fight a Liberal party vote next week that could remove him from power.
"They are asking the party room to vote out the people that the electorate voted in," Abbott said of the move to challenge his leadership brought by two government backbenchers.
He said he would urge the party room - Liberal MPs and senators - to defeat the motion to remove himself and his deputy, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, from their positions, set for Tuesday.
Facing the media shortly after the motion became public, Abbott hit back at a press conference at which he took no questions.
"We are not the Labor Party... and we are not going to repeat the chaos and the instability of the Labor years," Abbott said, in reference to the repeated switching of leadership under the previous Labor government.
"I have spoken to deputy leader Julie Bishop and we will stand together in urging the party room to defeat this particular motion and in so doing... vote in favour of the stability and the team that the people voted for at the election.
"We have a strong plan... and we are determined to get on with it."
Abbott was prompted to make the statement after West Australian Liberal MP Luke Simpkins emailed colleagues saying he would initiate a leadership challenge at a meeting of lawmakers set for Tuesday.
"I think we must bring this to a head and test the support of the leadership," Simpkins wrote.
The party room, made up of 102 Liberal members of the lower and upper house, would be able to "either endorse the prime minister or seek a new direction", Simpkins said, adding it was in the best interests of the country.
Simpkins said he had been inundated with emails and people coming into his office questioning the "direction the government is being led in" after a series of policy backflips, an unpopular budget and Abbott's decision to award Britain's Prince Philip a knighthood.
Several MPs had already openly revolted against the conservative prime minister by calling for a leadership vote.