Melbourne | Scott Morrison is set to become Australia’s sixth prime minister in just over ten years after emerging victorious today in a bruising leadership contest for the Liberal Party, capping days of political chaos in the country.
The vote was the second challenge this week to the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull who himself assumed office by leading a party revolt in 2015.
Morrison, 50, who has been serving as the country’s treasurer, defeated former home affairs minister Peter Dutton by 45 votes to 40 at the closed door leadership vote.
Morrison will lead the conservative party, which is known as the Liberal Party, in a general election expected in the coming months.
He had backed Turnbull earlier in the week, but he later emerged as a more moderate alternative to Dutton, known for his hard-line stance on immigration.
Dutton had mounted an unsuccessful leadership challenge on Tuesday.
A rift within the party escalated last weekend over an energy proposal from the prime minister, which was meant to reduce electricity prices and address climate change by cutting emissions. Dutton rallied the party’s conservative wing against Turnbull.
The deputy leader Julie Bishop, who has been serving as foreign minister, also lost her position to Victorian Josh Frydenberg who defeated Greg Hunt and Steve Ciobo with an absolute majority.
Since 2007, no Australia prime minister has faced two consecutive elections.
Turnbull said on Thursday he would step down and leave the parliament following the vote, potentially cracking the government’s slender one-seat majority and leading to a byelection or even a general election.