Canberra: Former treasurer Scott Morrison, one of the architects of Australia’s tough immigration policy, was sworn in as the country’s new Prime Minister following the ouster of Malcolm Turnbull from the post amid growing discontent and a revolt of the ruling Liberal Party conservatives.
Turnbull’s dismassal came after a week of turmoil, as the nation watched the ruling party tear itself apart over ideological differences. A row over energy policy ignited long-existing tensions between Turnbull, a moderate, and his party’s conservative wing.
He had also been under pressure due to poor polling and described the development as an “insurgency” by conservative MPs, the BBC reported.
A member of the Liberal Party’s conservative faction and former Immigration Minister, Morrison won an internal ballot 45-40 over former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who had been Turnbull’s most vocal threat.
Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, was elected as Deputy Prime Minister.
Morrison is a social conservative and devout Pentecostal Christian who voted against same-sex marriage in Parliament in 2017 and took a hardline stance as Minister for Immigration and Border Protection in 2013-2014.
He was sworn in by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and assured stability and unity during a press conference.
“Now, our job (…) is to ensure that we not only bring our party back together, which has been bruised and battered this week, but that will enable us to ensure we bring the Parliament back together, that we can continue to work to ensure that our country stays close together,” Morrison said alongside his deputy, Josh Frydenberg.
Frydenberg was sworn in as treasurer.
Morrison said his government will focus on keeping the economy strong and Australians safe, adding that his priority will be to tackle the country’s severe drought.
He also said he will offer positions in his government to Dutton and former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. The new leader will announce the make-up of his government in the coming week.
Turnbull’s position was thrown into doubt earlier this week as a right-wing faction in the party refused to support his climate change policy. Despite backpedalling on the bill, he found his leadership in crisis.
Friday’s chaos began when a party meeting was convened after Turnbull received a petition letter with signatures of the majority of Liberal MPs. He had earlier said that if a leadership vote was called after receiving the petition, he would not stand as a candidate on the ballot. He agreed to step down.
Turnbull was first challenged by Dutton on Tuesday, but the latter’s narrow defeat in the first vote only stoked further discord. Morrison later entered the race after Turnbull lost key backers.
Turnbull has signalled he would resign from Parliament, which would force a by-election and potentially put the government’s one-seat majority at risk and force the new Premier to call early elections.
However, Morrison said there were no plans to do that.
No Australian Prime Minister has managed to complete his term since 2007 due to internal power struggles both in the Liberal-National coalition and in the Labour Party.