Former defence minister Peter Dutton is elected unopposed as Liberal leader


Former defence minister Peter Dutton has been elected unopposed as the new Liberal leader, with former environment minister Sussan Ley taking the deputy spot.

Mr Dutton will become the first Queenslander to lead the Liberal Party.

The Dickson MP has been touted as Scott Morrison’s likely replacement since the coalition lost government.

Mr Dutton already took aim at the Labor party in his first speech after being dubbed the Opposition leader.

‘By the time of the next election in 2025, we will have presented a plan to the Australian people which will clean up Labor’s inevitable mess and lay out our own vision,’ Mr Dutton said.

‘Make no mistake, and Australians understand this, the next three years under Labor is going to be tough for the Australian people.

‘Already they’re breaking promises and foreshadowing policy shifts.’

Former defence minister Peter Dutton (pictured with wife) has been elected unopposed as Liberal leader, with former environment minister Sussan Ley taking the deputy spot

The new Liberal leaders are seen speaking to reporters after being elected on Monday morning

The new Liberal leaders are seen speaking to reporters after being elected on Monday morning

Mr Morrison put on a brave face when he arrived at Parliament House on Monday to watch his successor be elected.

Speaking to reporters on Monday morning, Mr Morrison said both he and Ms Ley were an ‘enormously experienced team’.

‘I was very pleased that they served in my cabinet, they did outstanding jobs,’ he said.

‘They’re incredibly experienced, well versed, deeply committed Australians to both the Liberal cause and of course the cause of the nation and I think they’ll do an outstanding job.

Former Liberal leader Scott Morrison put on a brave face when he arrived at Parliament House on Monday

Former Liberal leader Scott Morrison put on a brave face when he arrived at Parliament House on Monday

Mr Morrison is seen walking in Parliament House as the new Liberal leader was announced

Mr Morrison is seen walking in Parliament House as the new Liberal leader was announced

Speaking to reporters after Mr Dutton was elected, Mr Morrison (pictured together) said both he and Ms Ley were an 'enormously experienced team'

Speaking to reporters after Mr Dutton was elected, Mr Morrison (pictured together) said both he and Ms Ley were an ‘enormously experienced team’

‘It was a good opportunity for me to thank my colleagues for their great loyalty and support over these past more than three and a half years and to do that both on my behalf as well as on behalf of my dear friend Josh Frydenberg, who we’re all very sad couldn’t be with us today.

‘It’s been a great privilege to lead the federal parliamentary Liberal Party and I hand it over to Peter and Sussan and wish them all the very best.’

Ms Ley said she would work hard to gain the trust back from women across Australia.

‘We know that we didn’t receive the support of all women at the last election, and my message to the women of Australia is we hear you,’ she said.

We heard you. We’re listening. We’re talking. And we are determined to earn back your trust and your faith.’

Mr Dutton’s likely main challenger was Mr Frydenberg, but after he lost his seat of Kooyong in the Federal Election, it became a one-horse race.

The new Liberal leader also admitted his walk out of the apology to the Stolen Generations was a mistake.

‘I made a mistake in relation to the apology and largely that was because of my own background and experience,’ he said.

‘Many of you have lived out in regional areas and many of you haven’t. I worked in Townsville. I remember going to many domestic violence instances, particularly involving Indigenous communities, and for me at the time I believed that the apology should be given when the problems were resolved and the problems are not resolved. 

Mr Dutton has served in parliament for more than 20 years

Mr Dutton has served in parliament for more than 20 years

‘There are little boys and girls in parts of our country in 2022, in this year, that slept in a shipping container last night to get through the hours of darkness in Indigenous communities and it’s completely unacceptable.’

He was also asked if he still saw the Biloela children as ‘anchor babies’, to which he noted he’d had ‘hundreds of cases I acted on grounds of compassion in relation to migration policies’.

‘The Minister of immigration is one of the most difficult jobs in the government,’ he said.

‘One of the things I didn’t have when I was Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Home Affairs were calls at two o’clock or three o’clock in the morning from the Admiral telling me that the boat had listed and women and children had drowned.

‘And I was conscious of that because I spoke to men and women of the Australian Defence Force and the Navy in particular and are still suffering from PTSD today because of that policy failure when Labor was last in government.

‘So wish the family well, I have no gripe against the family. I want to make sure that we don’t see the tragedy of kids in detention, we get all the children out of detention.’

Ahead of the vote by Liberal MPs, Queensland’s Stuart Robert said Mr Dutton and Ms Ley would be unopposed.

‘(I’m) super happy about the party room and the leadership team we’re bringing in,’ he told Nine Network on Monday.

Mr Dutton had all but been confirmed to be the new Liberal leader after running unopposed

Mr Dutton had all but been confirmed to be the new Liberal leader after running unopposed

Scott Morrison is seen leaving the Liberal party meeting after Mr Dutton was announced as the Opposition leader

Scott Morrison is seen leaving the Liberal party meeting after Mr Dutton was announced as the Opposition leader

NSW Liberal senator Hollie Hughes says Mr Dutton will lead the party back to the centre-right as it looks to rebuild.

Former immigration minister Alex Hawke says the party had a strong history of containing both progressives and conservatives.

‘That’s a strength not a weakness and I think that blend is very important,’ he said.

Mr Hawke also denied the party had struck the wrong balance between the two at the election.

‘The regions struck very strongly with the Liberal and National parties, the suburbs and outer suburbs … very strong results in western Sydney,’ he said.

‘We were blindsided in areas of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Votes that went to the Greens, votes that went to the teals, this is something we have to look at, what policies will appeal to those people.’

Former home affairs minister Karen Andrews, also a Queenslander, says the leadership duo will offer the skills and depth needed to take the party forward.

Mr Dutton, a former police officer, spruiked his credentials for the job of opposition leader following his nomination.

Mr Dutton will become the first Queenslander to lead the Liberal Party

Mr Dutton will become the first Queenslander to lead the Liberal Party

Who is Peter Dutton? 

Peter Craig Dutton, 51, was born in Brisbane and served in the Queensland Police for a decade while running a construction business with his father.

Soon after leaving the police he was elected to parliament in the seat of Dickson at the 2001 election.

He filled minor ministry positions under John Howard and was promoted the health minister when Tony Abbott brought the Liberals back to power.

Mr Dutton later served as immigration minister and then led the expended Home Affair Department, before becoming defence minister last year.

A member of the Liberal Party’s right wing faction, Mr Dutton is more conservative than most of his fellow MPs and is polarising with voters as a result.

While immigration and home affairs minister he made numerous inflammatory comments about immigrants and asylum seekers.

He claimed refugees would take jobs from Australians and in 2016 said Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser letting in Lebanese Muslim refugees during the war was a mistake.

Mr Dutton refused to let the Biloela family stay in Australia and called their two children ‘anchor babies’.

At the same time he advocated Australia treating white farmers form South Africa as refugees from ‘genocide’ and controversially gave visas to three French au pairs.

As defence minister he made numerous inflammatory statements about China as relations deteriorated over Mr Morrison’s calls for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19.

Mr Dutton doggedly opposes gay marriage, easing drug laws, and aggressively countering climate change.

He owns six properties along with his second wife Kirilly and opposes any changes to negative gearing.

Mr Dutton was expected to become prime minister in August 2018 when Malcolm Turnbull was deposed, but Mr Morrison unexpectedly emerged victorious.

He is again heavily favoured this time around after his main competition, treasurer Josh Frydenberg, lost his seat at the 2022 election.

‘In a prime minister you need someone who won’t buckle in hard times and will stand up for our country and I have proven that in the portfolios I’ve had,’ he wrote on Facebook.

‘My work ethic is second to none and I have the skill and experience having served five leaders and have learnt from each.’

Mr Dutton has pledged to take the party back to its core values and represent the aspirational ‘forgotten people’ of Australia.

‘We aren’t the Moderate Party. We aren’t the Conservative Party. We are Liberals,’ the post said.

The Liberal Party has never had a leader from Queensland since it was founded in 1944.

Mr Dutton has held the outer Brisbane seat of Dickson since 2001. 

Elizabeth Watson-Brown, the new Greens MP for the Brisbane-based seat of Ryan, said voters won’t be ‘enamoured’ by Mr Dutton.

‘The Liberal Party does need to do some soul searching,’ she told the ABC.

Peter Dutton is seen with then Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull in 2008

Peter Dutton is seen with then Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull in 2008

‘The general sense was that their campaign was sort of pretty disgraceful, there was a lot of culture-war baiting (and) inaction on climate change,’ she said.

‘The voters of Ryan will not necessarily have a particularly benign view of Peter Dutton.’

Meanwhile, Queensland MP David Littleproud has been elected as the new leader of the Nationals, defeating Barnaby Joyce.

NSW Senator Perin Davey was elected his deputy. 

Three people each had nominated for the leader and deputy positions.

Ahead of the party room meeting in Canberra, Mr Joyce was ‘sanguine’ about retaining his leadership of the Nationals despite facing a challenge.

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