Australia profile - Leaders

Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by governor-general Sir Peter Cosgrove (appointed March 2014)

Prime Minister: Malcolm Turnbull

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull ousted Tony Abbott as prime minister and leader of the centre-right Liberal Party in September 2015.

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Image caption Malcolm Turnbull, prime minister of Australia

Mr Abbott's had won the 2013 election, ending six years of Labor Party rule, but a series of gaffes, the loss of Queensland in state elections, and poor poll ratings left him vulnerable to a leadership challenge.

Mr Turnbull had been Liberal leader back in 2008-2009, and was replaced by Mr Abbott after a patchy performance as opposition leader. He briefly retired from politics, only to return to serve under Tony Abbott when the Liberals returned to office with their traditional National Party coalition partners in 2013.

A prominent barrister, Malcolm Turnbull came to international prominence for blocking British attempts to prevent publication of the controversial Spycatcher spy memoirs in Australia in 1986.

He went on to have a successful business career in finance and telecoms, hitting the headlines again as leader of the Republican Movement during its failed attempt to win the 1999 referendum on abolishing the monarchy.He entered party politics in earnest in the early 2000s, briefly serving as environment minister in 2007 before the Liberals lost power.Mr Turnbull comes from the less conservative wing of the Liberal Party, holding views on climate change, same-sex marriage and the monarchy at variance with traditional Liberal positions, and seen by his supporters as more likely to win over votes Labor voters.

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