Malcolm Turnbull will be Australia’s 29th prime minister after defeating Tony Abbott in a leadership challenge in Canberra.
Turnbull beat Abbott by 54 votes to 44, with one abstention among the 99 MPs present.
Turnbull, 60, has had a career spanning law, investment banking, and running an internet business. He is likely to be sworn in tomorrow as prime minister.
Current foreign minister Julie Bishop will remain as deputy leader of the party. Social services minister Scott Morrison is expected to serve as treasurer.
In his first public statement after his election to the leadership, Turnbull said his government would be “focused on ensuring that in the years ahead as the world becomes more and more competitive and greater opportunities arise, we are able to take advantage of that.”
“The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, that is innovative, that is creative. We can’t be defensive, we can’t future-proof ourselves,” he said.
“We have to recognise that the disruption that we see driven by technology, the volatility in change is our friend if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it.”
Turnbull, who serves as the local MP for Wentworth, the Sydney eastern suburbs area which is the highest-earning electorate in the country, becomes Australia’s fifth prime minister in five years, following a succession of leadership crises for the Labor party while it was in office.
Speculation about Abbott’s future reached fever pitch in recent days, with the prime minister being forced to deny his office had leaked a list of six cabinet ministers in line for being demoted in a cabinet reshuffle under consideration.
For more than a year, MPs have been complaining about senior staff in Abbott’s office, especially the operating style of his chief of staff, Peta Credlin. Abbott’s judgment was brought into further question when he stood by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bronwyn Bishop, as she was mired in a scandal about her use of parliamentary entitlements. The Bishop scandal dragged on for weeks, proving a huge distraction for the government, before she eventually resigned.
Abbott has been battling falling approval ratings for more than a year. His government has been widely seen as failing to sell a strong economic message and lacking vision for the country’s future.
After challenging Abbott to a leadership vote Turnbull said he wanted to map out a strong economic strategy for Australia.
“Ultimately, the Prime Minister has not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs,” Turnbull said. “He has not been capable of providing the economic confidence that business needs.”
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