Scott Morrison will be Australia’s 30th Prime Minister after defeating Peter Dutton in a ballot to replace Malcolm Turnbull.
The treasurer will take over the top job after Turnbull called a spill of the party’s leadership positions in a meeting in Canberra on Friday.
Morrison has been given the thumbs up by analysts, who say the outcome of today’s leadership vote is positive for the Australian economy.
Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital, said the current treasurer – as a centrist – was more market-friendly than conservative contender Peter Dutton.
“This is a reasonably good outcome from an economic and investment perspective … this probably explains why the share market at the (Australian dollar) had a bounce on the news,” Oliver said.
Turnbull congratulated Morrison on winning and revealed he will quit parliament before the next election.
“I’ll be leaving the parliament in, not, not before too long as I have always said,” Turnbull said.
Morrison will be sworn in by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove on Friday afternoon, having first knocked out Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in a three-way contest and then defeated Mr Dutton 45-40.
Dutton congratulated Morrison and new deputy Josh Frydenberg and thanked Turnbull and Bishop.
“My course from here is to provide absolute loyalty to Scott Morrison, to make sure that we win the election and defeat Bill Shorten and make sure he’s never prime minister,” Dutton told reporters.
The meeting was brought on after 43 Liberal MPs signed a letter demanding a leadership spill.
But the spill motion only passed 45-40, meaning Mr Turnbull needed just three votes to swing his way to stay on as prime minister.
Former prime minister Abbott told reporters the job now was to “save the government”.
“We have lost the prime minister but there is still a government to save,” he said.
Dutton was free to challenge after the solicitor-general found he is likely clear to stay in parliament despite questions about his eligibility.
Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue QC found there was “some risk” the High Court would find Mr Dutton had a conflict of interest over federal payments to childcare centres owned by a family trust of which he is a beneficiary.
But overall he said it was probably likely Dutton was not in breach of section 44 of the constitution.
The qualified support casts a shadow over Dutton’s future, with Labor likely to seek again to refer him to the High Court after failing to do so on Thursday by one vote.
“The consistent and strong advice which I have received puts to rest the false, unsubstantiated and malicious claims regarding my eligibility,” Dutton said earlier.
Australians are due to go to the polls by May 2019.
Ben Kearney, Head of Policy & Government Relations, Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association, commented on the consequences of the spill for Small Businesses:
Small businesses in Australia are not served well at all by the current leadership crises or political instability generally. Our members need focused, practical, and long-term policy solutions to issues like inefficient small business IR laws, energy costs, digital equity and red tape that hurts small business. What they don’t need is a government preoccupied and paralysed by leadership tensions and the possibility of imminent elections.
Businesses and consumers are sadly being ignored by this current internal crisis. Confidence, which is the vital ingredient for small business success, is likely to collapse quickly unless these negotiations on the leadership of the government are resolved immediately and decisively.
Certainly, our members and their customers will be hoping for quick resolutions, or if necessary an election. Australians are clearly growing weary of leadership merry-go-rounds, and future governments need to have an unwavering focus on the important challenges our small businesses, their employees and customers face, and not short-term news cycles or quick fixes. They need to support their leaders for the full-term and together make the difficult long-term decisions Australians expect of them to plan for our country’s successful future.