CANBERRA: New Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised generational change in the warring Liberal party on Friday, seeking to end an internecine battle that has scarred the conservative government ahead of an election due by May 2019.
Morrison, who was treasurer under outgoing prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, emerged the surprise winner in a three-way challenge for the leadership of the Liberal party brought on by a right-wing rival this week.
Stepping up to become Australia’s sixth prime minister in less than 10 years, Morrison has inherited leadership of a coalition between the Liberal and National parties whose one-seat majority will have to be defended when a by-election is held for a safe Sydney seat that Turnbull is set to vacate.
“Our job ... as we take forward this mantle of leadership as a new generation, is to ensure that we not only bring our party back together, which has been bruised and battered this week, but that ... we bring the parliament back together,” Morrison said in his first appearance after his party-room victory.
“The new generation of Liberal leadership is on your side,” he told Australian voters, many of whom are angry and frustrated with a decade of political instability in which no sitting prime minister has lasted a full term.
Morrison emerges surprise winner in a three-way challenge for leadership of the Liberal party
Morrison was sworn into office shortly after 6pm (0800 GMT) on Friday.
He ruled out calling a general election in the near term but will still face an early electoral test, as Turnbull is set to resign from parliament, forcing a by-election in a Sydney seat that has been a safe seat for the Liberals.
Turnbull blamed his demise on “vengeance, personal ambition, factional feuding” in his party, led by conservative lawmakers including former prime minister Tony Abbott, the man he toppled in a party-room coup in September 2015.
“Australians will be dumbstruck and so appalled at the conduct of the past week,” said Turnbull.
Liberal party member Warren Enserch said after the leadership vote: “This revolving door of prime ministers has got to stop”.
The Liberal party is the senior partner in the Liberal-National coalition government that has consistently trailed opposition Labour in opinion polls in recent months. Bookmakers on Friday had Labour a favourite to win the next poll.
Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2018