Peter Dutton insists he has no regrets after trying to overthrow Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying he was a “better person” to lead the Liberal party.
The former home affairs minister’s campaign to dethrone Mr Turnbull backfired spectacularly on Friday when Treasurer Scott Morrison defeated him in a leadership ballot 45-40.
Mr Dutton was philosophical after the embarrassing loss, describing the leadership coup as a turning point for the Liberal Party.
Lack of loyalty in the days and weeks leading up to his second failed challenge drew a rebuke from Mr Turnbull on his way out the door.
“Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott and others who chose to deliberately attack the government from within, they did so because they wanted to bring the government down,” the outgoing prime minister said.
But Mr Dutton brushed off the fierce criticism from his former leader.
“I would rise above it because there’s a lot of emotion and rewriting of history,” Mr Dutton told the ABC at a Canberra restaurant, where he was dining with family.
“I only nominated because I believe that I was a better person and a person of greater strength and integrity to lead the Liberal Party.”
— Jackson Gothe-Snape (@jacksongs) August 24, 2018
Mr Dutton lost to Mr Turnbull 48-35 on Tuesday after the prime minister’s snap spill caught almost everyone off guard.
“I’m pleased that Scott Morrison has been elected prime minister – I think it’s a good day for our country,” Mr Dutton
“I think it’s a turning point and a healing point for the Liberal Party, I think we now look forward instead of back.”
Mr Dutton said animosity had run deep within the party ever since Mr Turnbull deposed Tony Abbott in 2015.
“We now draw a line under all of that,” he said.
Whatever his immediate future, a margin of 1.6 per cent in his Brisbane electorate of Dickson means Mr Dutton could have to lower his sights to the less ambitious target of staying in parliament.
“I’m spending time with my family — that’s all I’m concentrating on this afternoon, and returning calls to friends and family,” he told the ABC.
Asked whether he fancied a return to his Home Affairs portfolio, he said only: “They’re all issues for the prime minister.”