MALCOLM Turnbull has been sworn in as the 29th prime minister of Australia and confirmed he has the support of the National party.
Above: Mr Turnbull being sworn in as prime minister. Image from ABC stream.
Mr Turnbull was sworn in this afternoon after winning a ballot on the Liberal party’s leadership last night 54 votes to 44.
Julie Bishop resoundingly won a ballot on the deputy leadership against Kevin Andrews, 70 votes to 30.
There was one informal vote for the leadership and one MP missed the leadership vote.
At the start of Question Time today Mr Turnbull confirmed National party leader Warren Truss would support his leadership. The National party is the coalition party which allows the Liberal party to form government.
Shortly before Mr Turnbull was sworn in, former prime minister Tony Abbott spoke to the media. He said he would not attack the new prime minister from the back benches.
“This is not an easy day for many people in this building,” Mr Abbott told media in Canberra.
“My pledge today is to make this change as easy as I can.
“There will be no wrecking, no undermining. I have never leaked or backgrounded against anyone and I certainly won’t start now.”
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Mr Abbott, who held anonymous leaks from the former Rudd and Gillard Labor governments against that party, said the media must stop publishing leaks.
“The nature of politics has changed in the past decade,” he said.
“We have more polls and commentary than every before – mostly sour, bitter character assassination.
“Poll-driven panic has produced a revolving door prime ministership that can’t be good for this country.
“If there’s one piece of advice [I can give the media, it is this]: refuse to print self serving claims that the person making them cannot put their name to.
Above: Mr Turnbull deliveres his first words as prime minister during Question Time today. Image from ABC stream.
“Of course [my] government wasn’t perfect. We have been a government of men and women, not a government of gods walking on earth.
“Yes this is a tough day, but when you join the game you accept the rules.”
Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten has made a jive about the change of leadership for the unpopular government.
“One down, one to go,” he said, referring to Liberal prime ministers.
Mr Shorten said Australia needed a change of government, not of leadership, and spoke positively of Mr Abbott during Question Time.
Long-serving Liberal prime minister John Howard has also spoken to media this afternoon. He praised both Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull.
“I believe [Mr Abbott] achieved, along with [former immigration minister] Scott Morrison, a turnaround in relation to border relation policy I didn’t think was possible,” Mr Howard said.
“It’s one thing to impose an effective policy like [my government] did, but after it was unravelled I didn’t think it would be possible.
“The removing of the mining tax and carbon tax… are also very significant legacies of his prime ministership.
He also reinterpreted the Liberal party’s failure to win the 2010 election, which ended with a hung parliament which supported the Gillard Labor government.
“He effectively, at the 2010 election, killed off a first term Labor government.”
Mr Howard congratulated Mr Turnbull and praised his service as a minister in the Howard government.
“He has the capacity to explain economic concepts very clearly,” he said.
“I have little doubt he will, as I did and Tony Abbott did, understand the Liberal party is a very broad church; it is the custodian of both conservative values and also small “L” liberal values.
“He will have all the support and advice that he might care to seek from me.”
Asked about the recent trend of short leaderships, Mr Howard said times had changed since his long term as leader.
“It’s certainly different,” he said.
“I think it has become more fragmented and I think there are differences that have been brought about by the more intensive and active media cycle.
“In the end the Australian public will make a judgement on the wisdom of changes of leader.”
Mr Abbott said it was “not for me to say” where Mr Abbott went wrong, saying “that assumes it was all his fault.”
“I do think if the polls had been different… then there may not have been a change.”
On the ABC’s Q&A program last night, former Liberal leader John Hewson said “I don’t think it’s about being popular.”
“So much of our focus today is about being popular. When Rudd wasn’t in power he was extremely popular, when he came back he was extremely unpopular.”
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