SYDNEY - Australia’s brutal political culture has another victim.
The country has a new prime minister designate after Tony Abbott was ousted in a party room rebellion led by former communications minister Malcolm Turnbull. Abbott, who has suffered months of poor approval ratings and internal division, was defeated by 54 votes to 44.
Abbott’s prime ministership has fallen apart because he lost the trust of the electorate, and ultimately the governing Liberal Party.
He was never a popular leader among voters despite a landslide election victory in 2013. The former boxer and trainee priest was a renowned political fighter, but he met his match in Malcolm Turnbull.
The former communications minister made a fortune as a merchant banker before entering parliament, and said the government had no chance of winning an election with Tony Abbott as prime minister.
Turnbull used his first press conference to outline his upbeat economic vision for the country. He said his government would seek to persuade, not lecture the electorate.
“There has never been a more exciting time to be alive than today, and there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian," said Turnbull. "We will ensure that all Australians understand that their government recognizes the opportunities of the future and is putting in place the policies and the plans to enable them to take advantage of it.”
Analysts say Turnbull will be expected to take a more active stance on climate change and gay marriage than his conservative predecessor.
Australian voters aren’t due to go to the polls until next year. But will it give the new man in charge enough time to heal a divided party?
The Australian dollar rose slightly at the news of Turnbull's win, which some financial experts have suggested was a sign that the business community welcomed the leadership change.