Malcolm Turnbull has been sworn-in as Australia’s 29th Prime Minister. He ousted Tony Abbott in a party room ballot in Canberra on Monday.
In the hastily-arranged late night party leadership ballot, 57-year-old Abbott, who had been plagued by poor opinion polls, received 44 votes while Turnbull got 54 votes.
Liberal MPs also voted for Julie Bishop to remain deputy leader of the party. She defeated Kevin Andrews by 70 votes to 30.
Turnbull, 60 was sworn in on Tuesday morning after Abbott wrote to the Governor General and resigned.
“This is a turn of events I did not expect, I have to tell you, but it’s one that I’m privileged to undertake, and one that I’m certainly up to,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra after the ceremony.
Turnbull said he would lead “a thoroughly Liberal government, committed to freedom, the individual and the market”. He also said that parliament would serve its full term, implying that there will be no snap polls.
Multi-millionaire former banker Turnbull had a strong backing from the influential foreign minister Julie Bishop. He is expected to rejig the cabinet later this week.
Turnbull, who is the 29th Prime Minister of the country, resigned from the cabinet on Monday afternoon at the Question Time where he told Abbott that he would challenge for the leadership.
He said the prime minister was incapable of “providing the economic leadership the country needs”. He also added that he had been under sustained pressure to put his name forward.
“Now this is not a decision that anyone could take lightly. I have consulted with many, many colleagues, many Australians, many of our supporters in every walk of life,” Turnbull said.
“This course of action has been urged on me by many people over a long period of time”. “It is clear enough that the government is not successful in providing the economic leadership that we need. It is not the fault of individual ministers. Ultimately, (Tony Abbott) has not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs. He has not been capable of providing the economic confidence that business needs,” Malcolm Turnbull added.
Earlier on Monday, at a press conference in Canberra, Mr Turnbull said if Mr Abbott remained as leader, the coalition government would lose the next election.
He said he had not taken the decision lightly, but that it was “clear enough that the government is not successful in providing the economic leadership that we need” and that Australia needed a new style of leadership.
“The prime ministership of this country is not a prize or a plaything to be demanded,” Abbott said in the Parliament after Turnbull advised him of the challenge and his decision to quit cabinet.
“I am dismayed by the destabilisation that’s been taking place now for many, many months and I do say to my fellow Liberals that the destabilisation just has to stop,” he said.
“I firmly believe that our party is better than this, that our government is better than this and, by God, that our country is so much better than this,” Abbott said.
Mr Turnbull’s victory is reminiscent of the coup former Prime Minister Julia Gillard staged against Kevin Rudd in 2010 which made the former communications minister Australia’s fifth prime minister in just over five years.