Scott Morrison vows stability as new Australian prime minister after Malcolm Turnbull is finally ousted

Turnbull chose not to contest a snap leadership election after his ruling Liberal party withdrew its support

Adam Withnall
Friday 24 August 2018 04:51 BST
New Australian PM Scott Morrison makes first address after winning party ballot

Australia‘s new prime minister has vowed to oversee a period of stability after a brutal political row saw Malcolm Turnbull ousted.

On Friday morning, the ruling Liberal party named finance minister Scott Morrison as the country’s new leader, after the new man emerged victorious from a three way tussle with former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, and foreign minister Julie Bishop.

The ugly fight for power within the party comes just nine months before the May 2019 deadline for a new general election, and continues a torrid period of instability in Australian politics – Mr Morrison will be the country’s sixth prime minister in less than 10 years.

Mr Turnbull, who called the leadership vote after losing the majority support of his party, opted not to contest the run-off.

Mr Morrison was sworn into office shortly after 6pm (9am BST) on Friday. Addressing voters, he promised a “generational change” to end the warring within the conservative government.

“Our job ... as we take forward this mantle of leadership as a new generation, is to ensure that we not only bring our party back together, which has been bruised and battered this week, but that ... we bring the parliament back together,” Mr Morrison said in his first appearance after his victory.

“The new generation of Liberal leadership is on your side.”

In an interview on KIIS FM radio, Liberal MP Craig Laundy said he spent Thursday night consoling the outgoing prime minister.

“I was with [Mr Turnbull] last night,” Mr Laundy told the Kyle and Jackie O Show. “We were having some glasses of red wine and champagne. He’s shattered basically, I would say.”

Mr Turnbull blamed his demise on “vengeance, personal ambition [and] factional feuding” in his party, led by conservative lawmakers including former prime minister Tony Abbott, the man he had toppled in a party coup.

“Australians will be dumbstruck, and so appalled at the conduct of the past week,” said Mr Turnbull.

The Liberal party is the senior partner in the ruling conservative coalition. The Liberal-National government has consistently trailed opposition Labor in opinion polls in recent months.

The leadership battle was sparked on Tuesday by an unsuccessful challenge by Mr Dutton, who narrowly lost a vote against Mr Turnbull.

Under intense pressure to call a second vote, Mr Turnbull convened a party meeting on Friday after receiving a letter, signed by the majority of party members, calling for a change of leader.

The crisis for the Liberal party is far from over however. Mr Turnbull said before the ballot, if he lost the prime ministership he would resign from parliament, leaving the new government facing a by-election for his Sydney seat that could see it lose its one-seat majority.

And Australian media reported foreign minister Ms Bishop, having been defeated in the leadership ballot, would probably also resign from politics.

Mr Turnbull came to power in September 2015. A social liberal and multimillionaire former merchant banker, he struggled to appeal to conservative voters and only narrowly won a general election in 2016.

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