Peter Dutton is talking to colleagues in a bid to shore up support and wrest the Liberal leadership from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Just 24 hours after losing a surprise spill 48-35 and saying he respected the party’s decision, Dutton told Neil Mitchell on Melbourne’s 3AW “of course” he was on the phone drumming up support for a leadership challenge.
“I’m speaking to colleagues. Again I am not going to beat around the bush with that mate,” he said.
“If I believed that a majority of colleagues support me then I would consider my position.”
Dutton said he believes he can beat Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten at the next election, due in the next 10 months.
“I would never run for the leadership not believing that I could beat Bill Shorten,” he told Mitchell.
“I believe I can beat Bill Shorten, I believe we can and we must.”
Ahead of the Senate vote which ultimately saw the government’s company tax cuts for big business defeated, Dutton said he’d use the $36.5 billion cost of the reform applied “either to households or tax cuts for small and micro businesses”.
Yesterday following the spill vote, Dutton held a media conference to lay out his credentials in what sounded like a job application.
Today he’s been talking widely on radio in a pitch to voters, addressing hip pocket issues, telling Triple M he’d take the 10% GST off electricity bills for families and pensioners and self-funded retirees.
“It would be an automatic reduction of 10% off electricity bills and people would feel that impact straight away,” he said, without explaining how that could work and the impact on the states, which receive the revenue.
He also wants a royal commission into electricity and petrol companies.
“I think Australian consumers for way too long have been paying way too much for fuel and for electricity and something just isn’t right with these companies,” he said.
“I think the royal commission has the ability to get to the bottom of what is fundamentally wrong in the system, and what could help ease some of that pressure on families and potentially small businesses.”
He also wants to do more to address the drought and get water to towns, comparing it to the Great Depression.
Dutton added that he’d had about 90 minutes of sleep last night.
Party insiders believe Dutton could launch another challenge for the top job as soon as Thursday if he’s able to secure the seven additional votes needed. One observer told the ABC that 2-3 more MPs moved to the Dutton camp overnight.
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