Malcolm Turnbull is to become Australia’s fifth Prime Minister in eight years after the ruling Liberal party voted him in by 54 votes to predecessor, Tony Abbott’s, 44 votes.
Tony Abbott is now the shortest serving Australian Prime Minister in forty years.
Australian politics is notoriously tumultuous. Tony Abbot was elected just over two years ago in a landslide victory but has never been seen as a unifying figure or popular with the electorate. He was renown for being gaffe prone, unpopular with women voters, there has been increasing concern over his handling of the struggling $1.5 trillion Australian economy and opinion polls consistently showed voters preferring Turnbull to lead the Liberal government.
Turnbull, a former lawyer and businessman, made his fortune from the early days of the Australian internet. He has consistently been in favour of developing Australia’s standing in the innovation and technology markets to compensate for the decline in the Australian mining industry following the end of once in a century mining boom and the slump in the commodities markets due to the down turn in the Chinese economy. He had openly criticised Abbott’s handling of the economic slowdown, saying Abbot had, “not been capable of providing the economic confidence business needs.”
He said, “The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, that is innovative, that is creative. We can not be defensive, we can not future proof ourselves, we have to recognise that the disruption that we see driven by technology, the volatility and change, is our friend if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it.”
“There has never been a more exciting time to be alive than today, and there has never been a more exciting time to be Australian”
Turnbull has announced he will have a “thoroughly liberal government, committed to freedom of the individual. Focussed in ensuring that in the years ahead as the world becomes more and more competitive and as greater opportunity arises, we are able to take advantage of that.”
Whilst previously working as a lawyer, Turnbull defended former MI5 agent Peter Wright, author of the book Spycatcher, and successfully blocked the UK government’s attempt to stop its publication.
Turnbull is a staunch republican and it is expected he will push this agenda forward, creating some uncertainty over the future of Australia’s relationship with the UK.
However, whilst Turnbull’s strong Republican views may be popular with many in Australia, this alongside his support for a carbon trading scheme and gay marriage have made him unpopular with his party’s right wing.
It may be that the turmoil in Australian politics is far from over.
What do you think? Have your say in the comments below.