Scott Morrison to be Australian PM as Malcolm Turnbull ousted

Scott Morrison is to be Australia’s new prime minister after Malcolm Turnbull was forced out by party rivals in a bruising leadership contest.

Turnbull had been under pressure from poor polling and what he described as an “insurgency” by conservative MPs.

Morrison, the treasurer, won an internal ballot 45-40 over former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton – who had been Turnbull’s most vocal threat.

The outgoing prime minister did not stand in the leadership contest.

Turnbull is the fourth Australian leader in a decade to be ousted by internal rivals.

“It has been such a privilege to be the leader of this great nation. I love Australia. I love Australians,” he said on Friday.

“We have so much going for us in this country. We have to be proud of it and cherish it.”

He had been staring down calls for his resignation as leadership speculation crippled his government.

He agreed to hold the ballot after a majority of party MPs signed a letter calling for it to take place.

Morrison is a former Tourism Australia managing director who has held ministerial portfolios including immigration and social services.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was also in the running for the leadership, but did not make it to the final round.


Week of chaos

The ballot on Friday ended one of the most dramatic weeks in Australian political history. On Tuesday, Dutton narrowly lost a challenge against Turnbull.

Morrison and Bishop entered the race after Turnbull lost key backers, effectively making his leadership untenable.

Dutton offered his congratulations to Morrison on Friday.

“My course from here is to provide absolute loyalty to Scott Morrison, and make sure we win the election,” he said.

Morrison, Turnbull, and Bishop did not immediately comment after the vote.

The past decade in Australian politics has been marked by a series of leadership coups, with three other sitting prime ministers deposed by party rivals.

Not a single leader in recent times has succeeded in serving a full three-year term as prime minister.


Who is Scott Morrison?

  • Social conservative who appeals to the moderate elements of the Liberal party
  • Rose to national prominence as immigration minister in Tony Abbott’s government
  • Built a reputation as a tough operator in enforcing Australia’s hardline “stop the boats” policy
  • Drew criticism over the controversial asylum seeker policies and offshore detention centres
  • Seen as a pragmatic, ambitious politician who has long eyed the top job
  • The 50-year old father-of-two is a leading religious conservatives and opposed last year’s same-sex marriage bill