Scott Morrison has been elected Australia’s 30th Prime Minister after winning today’s Liberal Party leadership ballot 45 to 40 against Peter Dutton. Julie Bishop also stood for the leadership but was knocked out in the first round.
Josh Frydenberg was elected Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party, with an “absolute majority” ahead of Steve Ciobo and Greg Hunt.
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull resigned immediately from his Sydney eastern suburbs seat of Wentworth. A by-election will be held at a yet-to-be-determined date.
Prime Minister Morrison was Treasurer in the Turnbull government. He has been in Parliament since 2007, representing the seat of Cook, situated in the Sutherland Shire in southern Sydney. He has served previously as Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister for Social Services.
Deputy Liberal Leader Josh Frydenberg was Minister for Environment and Energy in the Turnbull government. He has been in Parliament since 2010, representing the seat of Kooyong in the inner-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. He has served previously as Assistant Treasurer and was Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister under Tony Abbott.
The conservative wing of the Liberal Party, led unofficially by Tony Abbott, has been undermining Turnbull’s leadership for more than a year. They were at odds with a number of Turnbull’s policies, including energy security, combating climate change and changes to superannuation.
While discontent has been brewing for some time, the recent poor showing by the government in the by-election for the Queensland seat of Longman and disagreement over energy security and climate change, were catalysts for Dutton’s original challenge on Tuesday this week. Nevertheless, the decision to seek to roll a Prime Minister, who was by historic standards not performing poorly in opinion polls, was surprising.
It goes to a deeper ideological schism at the heart of the Liberal Party between conservative right-wing members and more socially progressive colleagues.
However, the practice of dumping prime ministers midterm has become a recent feature of Australian politics, commencing with Labor’s rolling of first term Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2010.