Dutton replaces Australian opposition leader

Ex-Defense Minister to Lead Australia’s Opposition Liberal Party

Peter Dutton

Former defence minister Peter Dutton has been elected unanimously to lead Australia’s centre-right Liberal Party after its election defeat, potentially foreshadowing a shift to the right in the country’s largest conservative party.

By Ben Westcott

Word Count: 393
A former Queensland police officer, Dutton comes from the right-wing faction of the Liberal National Coalition and developed a reputation as a strident China hawk in his time as Australia’s first home affairs minister and later defence minister under then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Former environment minister Sussan Ley was elected as his deputy.Speaking after the meeting to vote on the new leadership team, former Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he looked forward to giving Dutton and Ley his full support. “They are incredibly experienced, well versed, are deeply committed Australians to both the Liberal cause and the cause of the nation,” Morrison said.

Moderate former treasurer Josh Frydenberg was considered Dutton’s main competition for the leadership but he lost his seat to a pro-climate action independent challenger at the election, leaving Dutton unchallenged.

Dutton previously accused the Labor Party under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of being too “weak” to stand up to Beijing, and said the only way for Australia to keep peace in the Indo-Pacific is to “prepare for war.” Under Dutton, Australia’s spending on defence rose to its highest levels in years.

The former defence minister has promised to lead the Liberal National Coalition from the political centre as it looks to rebuild itself after the 2022 loss. He has the support of former Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who told The Australian newspaper in the past week that Dutton had “courage, convictions and temperament.”

Australia’s new leader Albanese said he has a stronger relationship with Dutton than he did with former prime minister Morrison and that he would like to work together to form a bipartisan consensus on important issues to Australia.

Dutton brings with him a number of controversies which could undermine his leadership. In 2008, he refused to support then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations — Indigenous Australians who were forcibly taken from their families as part of a government-supported program.

In 2015, when he was immigration minister, Dutton was caught on a microphone joking about the effect of climate change of Pacific islands with Abbott and Morrison. He later apologized for his remarks.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • blaxx47 says:

    Isn’t Dutton also the fellow who, a coupla years ago, suggested that Oz should fast track visas for white South African farmers? To give them refugee status in the light of the persecution campaign against them by the ANC?
    Give your readers some local angle, DM.

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