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Scott Morrison. Photographer: Brendon Thorne / Bloomberg.

Australia Just Changed Prime Ministers — Again

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Australians have dealt with a decade of dysfunction and civil war in both the Labor and Liberal parties. Australians want, and deserve, leaders that work to create meaningful, positive change in the world. You can take action to call on new Prime Minister Scott Morrison to work towards a better Australia here.

Australia, we have a new prime minister — again. 

After days of petty party politics, strong-willed tactics, and government dysfunction, Scott Morrison triumphed former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to take the title of Liberal party leader, and, in turn, Australia's 30th prime minister.

Take Action: Call on new Prime Minister Scott Morrison to work towards a better Australia.

Bishop was eliminiated in the first round, with Morrison then defeating Dutton 45 votes to 40 during the Liberal party room meeting on Friday — a figure that implies the party is still greatly split.

In an “overwhelming” vote, Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg was announced as deputy leader.

During the meeting, a defeated Turnbull surrendered the leadership position in the midst of a vote of no confidence in his capacity to lead the Liberal party to the next election. Morrison’s appointment ends Turnbull's three years as prime minister.

“I want to thank the Australian people for the support they’ve given me and my Government over the last nearly three years,” he stated, before describing the “insurgency” that occurred as various parliamentarians tried to bring down his prime ministership as “extraordinary”.

“It was described as madness by many, and I think it’s difficult to describe it in any other way. In the party room meeting today I was impressed by how many of my colleagues spoke or voted for loyalty above disloyalty. How the insurgents were not rewarded by electing Dutton, for example, but instead my successor, who I wish the very best, of course, Scott Morrison, a very loyal and effective Treasurer.”

Turnbull’s fate was all but sealed when three significant Cabinet ministers - Mathias Cormann, Mitch Fifield and Michaelia Cash - withdrew their support early Thursday morning and demanded a party room meeting to solve the Liberal leadership discourse.

Cormann stated he intended to continue his long held support for Turnbull, but contended he could no longer ignore the reality that all except five cabinet colleagues had redirected their support to Dutton in the past 48 hours.

"I can't ignore the fact that a majority of colleagues in the Liberal Party party room are of the view that there should be a change, and I would not have been in this position if we didn't have the vote on Tuesday, followed by a stream of colleagues approaching me to express their view to me very clearly," he stated. 

Dutton, who took over from Morrison as immigration minister in 2014, was Turnbull’s sole competitor until late Thursday evening. On Thursday, Dutton gathered the 43 signatures needed from Liberal MPs to call for a spill. During the meeting, it became clear that those who put their names on Dutton’s letter voted elsewhere during the ballot.

“I wouldn’t have contacted the prime minister if I didn’t believe that I had the majority of support,” Dutton stated. “My course from here is to provide absolute loyalty to Morrison to make sure we win the election and that we defeat Opposition leader Bill Shorten to make sure that he's never prime minister.”

So, who is Scott Morrison and what does he stand for?

Morrison entered parliament in 2007. He has served as social services minister and immigration minister under Abbott, and then as Treasurer under Turnbull.

As Treasurer, Morrison delivered three budgets which were focused on jobs, agriculture, and infrastructure investment. Despite citing investment in foreign aid in his maiden speech to Parliament as a personal passion, Morrison oversaw significant cuts to the nation’s foreign aid budget. 

Related Stories May 10, 2018 New Zealand Increases Aid Funding as Australia Cuts It

He has taken a hardline approach to Australia’s immigration program and has been a key player in Operation Sovereign Borders, the military-led government initiative that aimed to ‘stop the boats’. He has long condemned both Labor’s greenhouse emissions reduction target of 45%, as well as the Coalition’s objective of 26% - which this week was scrapped by Turnbull in a last minute bid to halt the internal revolt and save his leadership.

In Australia’s historic same-sex marriage vote last year, Morrison was one of 10 Liberal MPs to abstain.

Morrison has stated he intends to now focus on providing a low-taxing government and drought relief, and spoke during an ensuing press conference about the need to provide unity and stability to the Australian people. Despite Turnbull stepping down immediately - which will trigger a byelection for his Sydney seat of Wentworth - Morrison stated Australians should not anticipated going to the polls any time soon.

The new ministry will be sworn in next week.

It has now been 11 years since a sitting prime minister has been able to finish a full term, from election to election. Morrison will be Australia’s fifth prime minister in just over five years. 

This is not the Australia people want to see or the type of Parliament that can lead the nation toward a better humanity. Let’s hope that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Minister Josh Frydenberg are able to do better, focus on serving the Australian people, and create the type of Australia we can all be proud of.