Turnbull Sworn in As New Australian Prime Minister


Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull, multi-millionaire former banker, has been sworn in as Australia’s new prime minister on Tuesday. His emergence came just hours after masterminding a coup against conservative leader Tony Abbott, and pledging a new style of leadership. Abbott lashed out at the savage nature of modern politics after his sudden toppling by his long-time Liberal Party colleague and rival –who served as communications minister before making the challenge.”The nature of politics has changed in the past decade. We have more polls and more commentary than ever before, mostly sour, bitter character assassination,” he said. Abbott won power in a general election victory in September 2013 but his first budget, with its harsh cuts to health and education, proved highly unpopular. Abbott survived a leadership challenge in February after poor polling and a series of gaffes ignited a backbench revolt.But he failed to turn around the polls, bolster the economy or stop damaging internal leaks, and lost the support of his party.

Abbott’s removal followed weeks of tumbling polls ratings and speculation about a challenge to his leadership. In a move led by Turnbull and Julie Bishop, the influential foreign minister, Abbott was voted out by the Liberal party by 54 votes to 44.

In his first public comments since his removal by the Liberal party late on Monday, Abbott said it had been “a tough day, but when you join the game, you accept the rules”. He said he was proud of what his government had achieved, while also taking swipes at party members who had leaked to the media and carried out “a sour, bitter character assassination”. He did not say if he would remain on the backbench or eventually resign from politics. The former prime minister however, said on Tuesday, that his removal was “tough” but promised not to undermine the new government.

Meanwhile, while addressing the parliamentarians Turnbull noted that, “the future is one of great opportunities and that requires confidence and leadership and it will be lost if we embrace the politics of fear and scaremongering.” He said policies would “change in the light of changed conditions”, but did not signal any immediate amendments to contentious issues including same sex marriage and climate policy.

Turnbull, whose successful career has included stints as a barrister and an entrepreneur, ruled out an early national election to cement his leadership. He said over the coming weeks and months he would set out his economic policy, but gave no details. “Opportunities that are there in the global economy, built on the foundations in no small measure of the free trade deals, are enormous,” he said.

Australia’s economy has slowed over the past year as the nation struggles to transition away from the mining-led growth that has helped avoid recession for 24 years. Unemployment is hovering around a decade-high, wages growth is subdued, while government revenue has been hit by slowing commodities demand from China, Australia’s largest trading partner.

Turnbull is not expected to announce a new cabinet line-up until the end of the week.

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