He was defeated by 48 votes to 35 in favour of Malcolm Turnbull in a party room ballot yesterday, but that hasn’t deterred Peter Dutton from having another run at becoming the leader of the Liberal party and prime minister of Australia.
The Member for Dickson, in Queensland, openly admitted that he is planning to launch a second challenge against Turnbull, during an interview with radio host Neil Mitchell on 3AW on Wednesday morning.
“I need to continue to talk to colleagues, I want to talk to them about ways to beat Bill Shorten at the next election,” Dutton said, to which Mitchell replied: “You think that’s you?”
The former police officer turned pollie said: “Yes I do. You don’t go into a ballot believing you can lose and if I believe that a majority of colleagues support me then I would consider my position. That’s being very honest.”
Asked if he’s working the phones, he replied: “Of course I am, I’m speaking to colleagues. I’m not going to beat around the bush. Yes, I’m talking to colleagues, colleagues are talking to me. That’s the reality, I’m on the backbench.
“The judgement needs to be what puts us in the best position to beat Bill Shorten and I believe, as I said yesterday, that I have ideas and a vision for Australia. I believe I’ve got the experience to defeat Bill Shorten and we must.”
Since the news broke on Tuesday, Dutton has tried to portray a different side of himself, telling Mitchell about his “working class” upbringing, with a bricklayer father and hard-working mother, saying “family is very important” to him. He also described Turnbull as a “friend of mine” during the radio chat and said he “served him loyally”.
Turnbull declared the leadership of the LNP vacant on Tuesday morning, triggering a challenge by the former Home Affairs Minister for leadership of the party, and in turn the prime ministership. However Turnbull held onto his position, securing 13 more votes than his opponent.
Dutton then handed in his resignation, stepping down from his Cabinet position as Home Affairs Minister, and moved to the backbench, telling Sky News he believed that was the “honourable” thing to do.
Speaking after the secret ballot yesterday, Turnbull revealed that he asked Dutton to stay on in the Cabinet, before confirming that Treasurer Scott Morrison would take over as Acting Home Affairs Minister for the time-being.
“Peter has done an outstanding job as Home Affairs Minister and I want to thank him for his work,” Turnbull said on Tuesday. “I’ve invited him to continue in that office however he has said to me that he doesn’t feel he can remain in cabinet having challenged me for the leadership and so he is resigning immediately.”
A total of 10 Ministers are alleged to have offered their resignations to Turnbull since the ballot, with the Prime Minister only accepting two of those, from Dutton and Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who was Minister for International Development and the Pacific.
The other Ministers believed to have offered to step down include Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge, Minster for Health Greg Hunt, Human Services Minister Michael Keenan and Trade Minister Steve Ciobo. As well as Zed Seselja, Angus Taylor, Michael Sukkar and James McGrath.