Australia government lawmakers on Friday elected Treasurer Scott Morrison as the next prime minister in a ballot that continues an era of extraordinary political instability. Dutton’s supporters had forced incumbent Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to hold the leadership ballot. Turnbull did not contest the ballot and later confirmed his intention to quit politics. “I’ll be leaving the Parliament … not before too long,” he told reporters.
Scott Morrison won the vote in the party room meeting 45 to 40 after days of tense meetings and panicked phone calls among party members as the country watched its government fall into disarray. Morrison will become Australia’s sixth prime minister in 11 years. His deputy leader will be Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg who won the vote with an “overwhelming” vote.
A defeated Malcolm Turnbull stood down from the leadership following a vote of no confidence in his ability to lead the party to the next election after he called the long-awaited meeting to finalise the challenge for the top job that started on Tuesday.
Challenger Peter Dutton hoped he had the numbers to pull off the move he attempted to make earlier this week, gathering the 43 signatures he needed to force Mr Turnbull to call the meeting.
But those who signed the document sent their votes elsewhere in the secret ballot, with many who put their name to the paper understood to be supporters of Mr Turnbull’s.
Outgoing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has fronted the media addressing the “insurgency” from a number of people in the party to bring down the government, or at least his prime ministership. The speech marked Mr Turnbull’s first comments since losing the Liberal Party leadership to Scott Morrison, and his last as Prime Minister.
“It was extraordinary,” he said.“It was described as madness by many, and I think it’s difficult to describe it in any other way. In the party room meeting today I was impressed by how many of my colleagues spoke or voted for loyalty above disloyalty.
“How the insurgents were not rewarded by electing Mr Dutton but instead my successor, who I wish the very best, of course, Scott Morrison, a very loyal and effective Treasurer.”
Rejected leadership candidate Peter Dutton is now facing the ultimate political humiliation. After Scott Morrison was elected Liberal leader, Mr Dutton will have to fight to even stay in Parliament as an army of volunteers assembles to ditch him from his marginal seat. His Queensland base of Dickson, which he retained in 2016 despite a 5 per cent swing against him, might go to Labor.
Fury has washed across Australia at the end of a calamitous week in politics. The Liberal Party’s leadership crisis has seen social media light up with messages of anger, frustration and exhaustion. The upset among most people is palpable at the end of an horrific few days that has seen the government tear itself apart.