Australian prime minister Tony Abbott urged party members on Monday afternoon to avoid, at all costs, "Labor’s revolving-door prime ministership", after Malcolm Turnbull launched his bid for the Liberal leadership. Reuters/Edgar Su

If Malcolm Turnbull is right about the numbers he believed he secured when he announced his resignation and leadership bid late Monday afternoon, Australia could very well welcome a new Prime Minister before the day is out.

But as Tony Abbott has proven once – no more than eight months ago in fact – he will not go down without a fight.

“There will be a Party Room ballot for both the leadership and deputy leadership positions later this evening,” Mr Abbott announced Monday evening. “I will be a candidate and I expect to win.”

“This country needs strong and stable government and that means avoiding, at all costs, Labor’s revolving-door prime ministership. Since coming to government, our team has stopped the boats, improved the Budget, cut taxes and increased jobs. We have laid the foundation for a better deal for families and for small business.

“You can trust me to deliver a stronger economy and a safer community.”

The 90 minutes after Mr Abbott made his pitch saw treasurer Joe Hockey, immigration minister Peter Dutton, employment minister Eric Abetz and defence minister Kevin Andrews step forward to pledge their support for the existing Prime Ministership.

"Mr Turnbull made a number of claims about economic leadership that are completely unfounded. He has never said to me or to the Cabinet that we are heading in the wrong economic direction. The disloyalty of some has been outrageous," fired Mr Hockey.

"The position of PM is a gift of you, the Australian people. You have the right to hire and only you have the right to fire."

"We cannot, we must not, become a carbon copy of the Labor Party. We cannot and we must not make the same mistakes that were made in the Rudd and Gillard years.

"The Australian people deserve better. We must put the national interest ahead of any self-interest.

"The PM has my absolute loyalty as I have his.”

Mr Hockey’s position as treasurer has been just as precarious as Mr Abbott’s in the last few weeks, with rumours that he should ‘take one of the team’ and step aside as treasurer coming to head last Friday amidst cabinet reshuffle allegations. Despite brushing aside the claims, Mr Hockey had admitted to the Sydney Morning Herald that Mr Turnbull, foreign minister Julie Bishop, and minister for industry and science Ian Macfarlane were unhappy with him after he cut “a few of their budgets”.

Finance minister Mathias Cormann and assistant treasurer Josh Frydenberg have also expressed their support for Mr Abbott in Monday night’s ballot, with the key message being the Liberal party has to avoid a repeat of the Rudd-Gillard Labor saga.

“I unequivocally support Tony Abbott to continue as our Prime Minister and we every been overwhelmed by messages from the Liberal Party base urging all Liberal members and senators to support Tony Abbott,” said Mr Cormann. "I mean the prime ministership is not something that gets changed like this on an afternoon whim.”

Party fractures, but Turnbull camp quietly confident

Immigration minister Scott Morrison is reportedly supporting Mr Abbott but has not made an explicit statement like other government frontbenchers.

Julie Bishop – an important piece in today’s puzzle – has also remained silent after reports emerged that she had joined Mr Turnbull in pushing for a leadership ballot Monday afternoon. The foreign minister will be Mr Turnbull’s running mate, and it is believed if Mr Abbott wins, she will be "sacked".

Although only Queensland Liberal MP Wyatt Roy and Senator Arthur Sinodinos have publicly supported Mr Turnbull’s bid for the leadership, the ABC reports that Mr Turnbull’s backers believe “the momentum is with them”.

Skynews political editor David Seers has also been told by a Turnbull camp number cruncher that Mr Turnbull is certain they have the numbers to win. There is also the belief that Mr Turnbull would not have made a play for the leadership without already canvassing the required number of votes.

However, the Prime Minister’s camp is just as confident.

"We've seen tonight a whole host of MPs and quite senior ministers who are loyal to the Prime Minister come out one by one in the Blue Room, which is of course where lot of major press conferences are held not far from here, and say that essentially they thought the Prime Minister would win and that he had their support,” noted ABC political reporter James Glenday.

Ministers are now in the party room for the vote.