Australian prime minister ousted in party coup, Scott Morrison to be new leader

2018-08-24 05:30
Scott Morrison. (William West, AFP)

Scott Morrison. (William West, AFP)

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Scott Morrison was installed as Australia's seventh prime minister in 11 years on Friday after a stunning Liberal party revolt instigated by hardline conservatives unseated moderate Malcolm Turnbull.

Former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, an ex-police officer and right-winger, was the driving force behind the move to oust Turnbull after a party backlash against his more liberal policies.

But after a torrid week of political intrigue in Canberra it was Morrison, a Turnbull ally who served as treasurer, who won a party vote 45-40.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, another Turnbull backer, was also in the running but was eliminated in the first round of voting. "My course from here is to provide absolute loyalty to Scott Morrison," Dutton, who Turnbull accused of bullying and intimidation in the move to knife him, said in brief comments afterwards.

Turnbull, who has pledged to quit parliament after his near three-year reign came to an end, survived one attempt to oust him on Tuesday, but ministers then began defecting, throwing the government into crisis.

Thwarted ambitions 

Former prime minister Tony Abbott, an arch conservative widely seen as the instigator of the move to get rid of Turnbull, said it was now important to "save the government" with national elections due by the middle of next year.

Turnbull must now pay a visit to the Governor-General to officially inform him of events and once there will recommend Morrison to form a new government.

Morrison, an evangelical Christian and former immigration minister, who took credit for "stop the boats" - a harsh policy to halt asylum-seekers from entering Australia - is further to the right than Turnbull but not as hardline as some in the party.

Turbulent decade

The unrest is the latest chapter in a turbulent decade for Australian politics, which has frequently descended into manoeuvering and backstabbing that has alienated voters.

No leader has managed to serve out a full term since former Prime Minister John Howard lost the 2007 election, in a remarkable revolving door at Canberra's parliament house.


Read more on:    peter dutton  |  scott morrison  |  malcolm turnbull  |  australia

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