News National Malcolm Turnbull elected Liberal leader

Malcolm Turnbull elected Liberal leader

Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull
Tony Abbott swears he isn't scheming to oust Malcolm Turnbull, but the criticisms are coming faster than ever.
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Malcolm Turnbull is set to become Australia’s 29th Prime Minister after winning a Liberal Party ballot to remove Tony Abbott as the leader of the government.

Mr Abbott was removed from the leadership of his party by a margin of 10 votes, 54-44.

He lasted one year and 361 days in office, making him the shortest-serving Australian PM since Harold Holt.

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• Malcolm Turnbull to challenge Tony Abbott
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Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will retain her position as deputy Liberal leader, after comprehensively defeating the only other person to contest the position – Defence Minister Kevin Andrews – by a margin of 70 votes to 30.

Addressing the media just after 10.40pm, soon after securing the leadership, Mr Turnbull paid tribute to Mr Abbott, citing his achievements in “securing our borders”.

But Mr Turnbull couldn’t resist a parting shot at the outgoing PM, who ousted him as Liberal leader while the party was in opposition in 2009.

“The culture of our leadership is going to be thoroughly consultative. A traditional, consultative Cabinet,” he said.

Australian Prime Minister designate Malcolm Turnbull (left) and Deputy Prime Minister designate Julie Bishop speak during a press conference in the Blue Room, after winning the Australian Federal leadership in a party ballot vote, at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AAP Image/Sam Mooy) NO ARCHIVING
Australian Prime Minister-designate Malcolm Turnbull and Liberal leader Julie Bishop were jovial after their victory. Photo: AAP

“The Australian Prime Minister is not a president. Our Prime Minister is the first among equals.

“We will be making decisions in a thoughtful, considered manner.

“That means I will not be making policy decisions from this podium here tonight.”

He also said he did not intend to call an early election.

Re-elected deputy leader Julie Bishop paid tribute to the new Liberal leader, referring to him as “my very good friend”.

“I’m confident that he has the passion, the energy and the vision to lead this country at this very challenging time,” she said.

“I thank Tony Abbott for his service as the leader of our party and particularly for the effort that he put in at the 2013 election when the Australian people knew they could not afford another moment under the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government.”

Ms Bishop has now held the deputy role under three Liberal leaders: Brendan Nelson, Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott. This is the second time she has served under Mr Turnbull.

Unusually, Mr Abbott chose not to address the media on Monday night.

Who changed camps?

Some former anti-Turnbull campaigners seem to have jumped ship.

Notably, Senators Mitch Fifield and Scott Ryan, who supported Tony Abbott’s 2009 leadership challenge, accompanied him to Monday’s leadership vote.

Assistant Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham was believed to be a prime mover behind the leadership spill, according to Adelaide’s The Advertiser.

Additionally, South Australian Liberals Anne Rushton, Matt Williams, Sean Edwards, Andrew Southcott and Rowan Ramsey were also believed to have deserted the former PM.

The Abbott government endured a string of frightening poll results in that state during recent months, attributed to the closure of vehicle manufacturing plants and confusion over whether defence contracts would be awarded to the SA-based Australian Submarine Corporation.

The Liberal Party was also facing a huge swing against it of up to 10 per cent at the forthcoming Canning by-election, although it was expected to withstand the challenge from Labor in that seat.

History repeating

Speaking before the vote, Mr Abbott remained defiant. Photo: AAP

Monday’s leadership spill marked the sixth challenge against a sitting Australian Prime Minister in the past five years.

Before the vote, Mr Abbott was confident he would survive.

“I will be a candidate and I expect to win,” he said.

A leadership spill was mounted in February and although Mr Turnbull was considered a likely contender, Mr Abbott was elected unopposed.

Responding to Monday’s challenge, Mr Abbott said his party was “not the Labor Party” with its “revolving door leadership”.

He said the leadership was not a “play-thing to be demanded” and called on people to “trust him” to look after Australia’s economy.

Before the incoming leadership team declared their intentions on Monday afternoon, Mr Abbott dismissed leadership speculation as “Canberra gossip”.

The Nationals

The junior Coalition partner has indicated it will negotiate with the new Liberal leader.

Earlier, Nationals leader Warren Truss said their Coalition agreement was with Mr Abbott, and any change of Liberal leader would require a new agreement.

Mr Truss has previously indicated he “got on quite well” with Mr Turnbull.

“Well Malcolm Turnbull is a very able man. When he was leader of the Liberal Party in opposition, we got on quite well,” he told the ABC in February.

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