Politics

Junk Explained: How Did Scott Morrison Just Become PM?

Wait, what the hell just happened?

Scott Morrison

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You’ve probably heard by now that Scott Morrison this morning defeated Peter Dutton and Julie Bishop in a ballot for the Liberal Party leadership, and will therefore be sworn in as Australia’s 30th Prime Minister.

And if you’re wondering how the hell we got here, and where we’re going next, you’re not alone. Until midday today, most people expected Peter Dutton to win the ballot. He didn’t, which is quite funny. We’ll do our best to explain what happened today.

Ok, How Did ScoMo Win?

Since Malcolm Turnbull went nuclear on Dutton, it’s been clear that Turnbull would be out of a job soon. That opened the door for two people who had been loyal to him — Scott Morrison and Julie Bishop — to start lobbying for the job themselves, which they’ve been doing since yesterday afternoon.

This morning Parliament was a little chaotic, as Peter Dutton’s supporters attempted to gather the 43 signatures necessary to force Malcolm Turnbull to call a second leadership vote in four days (43 is a majority of the 85-person Liberal party room).

Malcolm Turnbull was demanding to see the 43 signatures for himself, which was pretty fair, given he’d already won one ballot earlier this week. The fact that Dutton has struggled to gain the necessary names should have been a sign: if his party room support was really as strong as he claimed, it would have been easy, but it wasn’t.

At the party room meeting, Turnbull called a spill motion (a spill is where you declare the leadership positions vacant), which succeeded 45 votes to 40. That was another sign that Dutton’s support was pretty weak. After that, Turnbull formally resigned as Liberal leader and called the position vacant. Three people nominated: Dutton, Morrison and Bishop.

Bishop was eliminated on the first vote, setting up a showdown between Morrison and Dutton, which Morrison won 45 votes to 40, making him the new Liberal leader.

Josh Frydenberg won the ballot to Deputy Leader, beating Greg Hunt and Steve Ciobo.

What Happens Next?

Turnbull will go and visit Governor General Peter Cosgrove, formally resign and recommend that Morrison be made the new PM. Morrison and Frydenberg will then be sworn in, but, there’s a catch.

It’s been reported that Turnbull will resign from Parliament immediately, which means the government will lose its majority in Parliament. A by-election for Turnbull’s Sydney seat of Wentworth can’t be held for weeks, and Parliament returns on September 10. Morrison may be asked by the Governor General to demonstrate that he has a majority in Parliament. If he can’t do that, we might be headed to a general election real soon.

After the absolute clusterfuck that was this week, it’s hard to imagine how the government could win an election.

Meanwhile Morrison will try as hard as he can to pretend it’s business as usual. He’ll name a cabinet, tweak some government policies, and try to pull the government out of the toilet.

What About Dutton?

This is a humiliating defeat for Peter Dutton, Tony Abbott and the conservative wing of the Liberal Party. They have been agitating for this for months, and forced Turnbull into a second spill motion within days, even though it turns out there probably wasn’t really an appetite for it.

A bunch of people — Matthias Cormann, Concetta Fiervanti-Wells, Mitch Fifield, Michaelia Cash, Greg Hunt — put their reputations on the line and claimed that Peter Dutton had a party room majority. They have been humiliated.

Speaking after the meeting, Dutton pledged “absolute loyalty” to Morrison and said he would do everything he could to ensure the government wins the next election, whenever that’s held.

It’s likely that a lot of conservatives will be given senior cabinet positions in the name of stability, but there’s A LOT of bad blood in the Liberal Party, and it will take years for these wounds to heal. They’re fucked.

Who Is Scott Morrison?

Scott Morrison isn’t as bad as Peter Dutton, but he’s still quite bad. He was the first Immigration Minister in the Abbott government, meaning he was the architect of the monstrous immigration policy that has seen children locked up, deaths, rampant self-harm, and serious mental health issues among vulnerable refugees.

Dutton has been enforcing that policy for the last few years, but make no mistake, Morrison backs it 100%, and does so with glee. Morrison once said it would be a waste of money to send grieving asylum seekers to their relatives’ funerals.

Since 2015, Morrison has been Australia’s Treasurer, responsible for cuts to public hospitals and the freeze on Medicare. He’s extremely religious and was a strong opponent of marriage equality. He defended Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and once proudly held up a lump of coal in Parliament.

As the boss of Tourism Australia, he gave us Lara Bingle.

And he’s the 30th Prime Minister of Australia.