Peter Dutton makes play for Liberal leadership
Australia’s outgoing defence Minister Peter Dutton is considering a tilt at the Liberal leadership after the party suffered a major defeat at the polls, according to reports.
Mr Dutton unsuccessfully challenged then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the role in 2018 but has remained a top-ranking Liberal under Scott Morrison.
The former drug squad cop has been in cabinet since 2013 and retained the Queensland seat of Dickson, which he has held for more than two decades.
He is expected to announce his candidacy in a matter of days, according to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
The Nine mastheads report his message to colleagues is that the Opposition should avoid a “night of the long knives” recriminations over the election loss.
It has also been reported the outgoing Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews and Trade Minister Dan Tehan are considering a run for the leadership of the party.
But Mr Tehan said it was “far too early” to discuss who would take over the leadership.
“We‘re 12 hours after election day. I think we’ve all got to take a raincheck and make sure that all those votes that still have to be counted are counted,” he said.
On Sunday morning former finance Minister and moderate Liberal Simon Birmingham told the Insiders program the opposition leader needed to look at how to rebuild the party following losses in key seats.
“Particularly how to ensure we bring into the Liberal fold more Australian women and ensure they are preselected in far greater numbers so we can ensure our party better reflects the reality of modern Australia,” Mr Birmingham said.
The senator said he was keeping his options open and planned to talk to other colleagues.
He noted the party was “paying the price” for not examining the loss of prime minister Tony Abbott to independent Zali Steggall in the blue-ribbon seat of Warringah at the previous election.
Before the election Mr Dutton dodged speculation he was considering a run for leadership and instead told Channel 9 he was “in the moment”.
“My head, to be honest, is very much in the moment,” he said.
Mr Dutton said his party remained a strong chance at the polls and was expecting upset wins across the country.
“I think it is incredibly tight,” he said.
But the party lost key seats in the election including the blue-ribbon seat of Higgins, to Labor.
Originally published as Peter Dutton makes play for Liberal leadership
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