The Speaker
Tuesday, 18 June 2024 – 15:47

What Happened Down Under? – Breaking Down Australia’s Change In Leadership

Scott Morrison has been sworn in as Australia’s new Prime Minister, replacing Malcolm Turnbull in the top job after a coup within the ruling Liberal Party.

It is now 11 years since an Australian Prime Minister finished a full term, with John Howard being the last to do so.

This latest change in leadership was not expected just over a week ago, but as some Twitter users put it: The main national sport of Australia is the Leadership spill which fixates the nation on a random but regular basis.

The Speakerpolitics news desk break down what happened:

Last week, Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton instigated a leadership spill against his party leader Malcolm Turnbull in an attempt to win control of the Liberal’s for himself following ideological differences within the party.

The coup began after the Liberal Party’s right-wing faction refused to support the Prime Minister over a climate change bill and subsequently used the opportunity to leverage a leadership challenge for the faction’s prominent figure Peter Dutton.

Despite Turnbull withdrawing the bill, his leadership of the party was thrown into doubt by what he himself described as a ‘determined insurgency’ from the right of the party and ‘powerful voices, in the media’.

To reassert his position Turnbull called for a snap leadership ballot on Tuesday 21st August, the day after leadership was challenged, facing off against that coup’s main instigator Peter Dutton.

Peter Dutton received 35 votes in the snap ballot, however, was unable to gain control of the party and Malcolm Turnbull remained in power.

Following the snap ballot, Dutton and several other members of the cabinet resigned, despite Turnbull offering to allow them to stay in their ministerial posts following the attempted coup.

A second leadership ballot was called for Friday 24th August following cabinet resignations; despite Turnbull imposing demands for written confirmation he had lost the party’s support.

The second round of the Leadership spill saw a motion to declare the position of Prime Minister vacant pass by 45 votes to 40 triggering a leadership election later in the day.

Malcolm Turnbull indicated that the motion served as a vote of no confidence in him and subsequently did not contest in the leadership ballot.

Friday’s leadership ballot saw the main challenger Peter Dutton face off against Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Treasurer Scott Morrison, with most expecting Dutton to claim victory.

In an initial round of voting Dutton claimed 38 votes, with Morrison 36 and Bishop just 11, seeing Bishop (who would have become Australia’s second female Prime Minister) eliminated.

A second round of voting was then fought between Dutton and Morrison, with the latter winning the contest 45 to 40 and subsequently became the party leader and Prime Minister.

Morrison was invited to form a government within hours of the leadership contest and becomes Australia’s 30th Prime Minister – and its 6th in just over a decade.

Following his ousting, Malcolm Turnbull has signalled his intention to resign from Parliament, thus forcing a by-election in the Australian House of Representatives.

Morrison was seen by many as a compromise candidate between the Turnbull and Dutton wings of the party, with him representing a conservative, but electable form of politics that has served the liberal party well in recent years.

Since gaining control of the nation’s government, Morrison has vowed to move on from the recent days’ upheaval and has promised to make Australia ‘even greater’.

Dutton reportedly claimed that he ‘was a better person to lead than Malcolm Turnbull’ and it is expected that he may attempt another leadership challenge in the future.

Australia’s next general election is set to be held before the end of 2019, but with this recent change in leadership, it is possible that Morrison may call it sooner than planned.

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