Malcolm Turnbull’s political career is over after the Liberal Party room voted to spill the leadership.
The spill motion was carried 45 votes to 40.
That paved the way for Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison and Julie Bishop to contest the leadership.
Bishop was eliminated in the first round of voting and the former treasurer beat Dutton 45-40.
Turnbull was Australia’s 29th Prime Minister, having seized the leadership from PM Tony Abbott in September 2015, and been Leader of the Opposition in 2008-09 before that, in turn, was rolled by Abbott.
He entered federal politics as the member for the Sydney eastern suburbs seat of Wentworth in 2004, and was Environment Minister under John Howard and then Abbott’s Communications Minister.
Ahead of today’s party room meeting Turnbull said he would quit politics if there was a leadership spill.
That means there will now be a by-election in Wentworth. Turnbull won the seat with a 27.7% margin on a two party-preferred basis in 2016, but the party now faces the challenge of finding a candidate quickly.
After today’s leadership ballot, an upbeat Turnbull fronted the media in his favourite colours — blue suit, orange tie, white shirt — to detail his government’s economic record.
He began: “It may surprise you on a day like this but I remain very optimistic and positive about our nation’s future, and I want to thank the Australian people for the support they’ve given me and my government over the last nearly three years.”
Among his achievements “We have been able to deliver substantial taxation reforms, much more than many thought possible”.
Infrastructure is also on the list, including the Western Sydney airport and inland rail.
“I’m very proud that we are underway with Snowy Hydro 2.0,” he said – the $2 billion plan to increase renewable energy capacity in the government-owned electricity generation scheme,” he said.
“I have been a reforming Liberal Prime Minister,” he said, citing the historic same-sex marriage reform and the child sexual abuse compensation scheme and childcare reforms.”
Pursuing the Trans Pacific Partnership is also on his list because “everyone thought it was dead”.
“I was mocked, as you know, by some for keeping at it. But we managed to secure the TPP.”
Keeping the US resettlement deal for refugees with Donald Trump is another achievement. Keeping tariffs off steel and aluminium too.
“It has been a challenging time to be Prime Minister, but I have been very proud of our achievements, I’m very proud of my Government and my ministers’ record in achievement.”
Turnbull thanks his family for their loyalty and love, especially his children Daisy and Alex and their spouses, saying if can often be tough on them as collateral damage in the rough and tumble of politics.
“It isn’t easy being either married to or the child of a politician let alone a Prime Minister,” he said.
He praises Australia, saying “we are the most successful multicultural societies in the world”, adding a warning that: “we must never allow the politics of race or division or of setting Australians against each other to become part of our political culture”.
Turning his attention to the “madness” of the week, he says “it’s difficult to describe it in any other way”.
Australians will be “dumbstruck and appalled” by this “insurgency”.
The vanquished PM, whose final act was defeat them, offered a return thrust of the knife.
“The people who chose Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott, who chose to deliberately attack the Government from within, they did so because they wanted to bring the Government down. They wanted to bring my Prime Ministership down,” he said.
“How the insurgents were not rewarded by electing Mr Dutton, for example, but instead my successor, who I wish the very best, of course, Scott Morrison, a very loyal and effective Treasurer.”
Foreign minister Julie Bishop received his thanks, along with the new PM.
“She is a very dear friend. We’ve been friends for over 30 years… and she has been a loyal deputy and just a great colleague and friend,” he said
Turnbull took a few questions from the media, then his family, wife Lucy, daughter Daisy and his grandchildren, Alice and Jack join him in the Prime Ministerial courtyard.
Jack yelled “Boo!” at the media. Australia’s 29th PM went into backbench wrangling mode with “Uh, come on Jack.”
With Jack starting school next year, he can expect the 63-year-old ex PM to be on the school run. There is life after politics.
Among his final comments as leader, Turnbull said: “We have so much going for us in this country. We have to be proud of it and cherish it.”
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