Scott Morrison was installed as Australia’s seventh prime minister in 11 years on Friday after a stunning Liberal party revolt instigated by hardline conservatives unseated moderate Malcolm Turnbull.
Former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, an ex-police officer and right-winger, was the driving force behind the move to oust Turnbull after a party backlash against his more liberal policies.
But after a torrid week of political intrigue in Canberra, it was Morrison, a Turnbull ally who served as treasurer, who won a party vote 45-40.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, another Turnbull backer, was also in the running but was eliminated in the first round of voting.
“My course from here is to provide absolute loyalty to Scott Morrison,” Dutton, who Turnbull accused of bullying and intimidation in the move to knife him, said in brief comments afterwards.
Turnbull, who has pledged to quit parliament after his near three-year reign came to an end, survived one attempt to oust him on Tuesday, but ministers then began defecting, throwing the government into crisis.
His departure from politics will spark a by-election for his Sydney seat, threatening the government’s wafer-thin one-seat parliamentary majority.
Dutton, who favours slashing migrant numbers and even pulling Australia out of the Paris climate agreement, was the sole candidate to be prime minister until Thursday when Morrison and Bishop entered the fray to try to halt his power grab.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott, an arch conservative widely seen as the instigator of the move to get rid of Turnbull, said it was now important to “save the government” with national elections due by the middle of next year.
Turnbull must now pay a visit to the Governor-General to officially inform him of events and once there will recommend Morrison to form a new government.