EMBATTLED prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was replaced by his treasurer (or finance minister) Scott Morrison today, just two days after defeating backbencher Peter Dutton’s leadership challenge.
Former home affairs minister Mr Dutton, who pledged loyalty to Mr Turnbull on Monday, saying: “The Prime Minister has my support and I support the policies of the government,” was backed by the conservative Liberal Party’s hard-right faction.
This faction has promoted party disunity by espousing Islamophobia, anti-immigration, opposition to equal marriage and attacks on the science of climate change.
It achieved success when Mr Turnbull was forced to scrap emission-reduction targets that had been adopted in line with the Paris accord on countering global warming.
But the efforts of the faction to capitalise on the prime minister’s surrender by putting Mr Dutton up against him and then, after he lost by 48 votes to 35, to confirm that it would press further challenges, didn’t translate into final victory.
Given that the hard right seemed intent on fostering an endless revolt against his leadership, Mr Turnbull declared that he would not defend his position against any subsequent challenge.
After succeeding at regicide, Mr Dutton put his name forward for the ultimate accolade, but he was outscored 45-40 by Mr Morrison.
Mr Turnbull welcomed the decision by Liberal MPs, describing the winner as a "very loyal and effective treasurer.”
He blamed "powerful voices" in the conservative media for his demise, saying: "There was a determined insurgency from a number of people.
"It was extraordinary. It was described as madness by many and I think it's difficult to describe it in any other way.”
The incoming prime minister makes much of his Pentecostal Christian identity, having declared on his 2007 entry into parliament that the values he derives from his faith come from Jeremiah 9.24.
“I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth for I delight in these things, declares the Lord,” he told MPs.
He campaigned unsuccessfully against equal marriage rights and was responsible under previous prime minister Tony Abbott for the policy of intercepting asylum-seekers’ boats and settling refugees in remote immigration camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
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