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Dutton set to become Liberal leader unopposed

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The Liberal Party is expected to elect former defence minister Peter Dutton as leader with NSW MP Sussan Ley tipped to take on the role of deputy, says outgoing home affairs minister Karen Andrews.

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“I believe very firmly Peter will be elected unopposed as the leader of the Liberal Party. His deputy is almost certain to be Sussan Ley. Together they will have the job of bringing together our team,” Andrews said today.

While she had been tipped to take on the job as deputy, Andrews said it was not possible as both she and Dutton are from Queensland.

“It was important the deputy came from a state other than Queensland and whilst that is personally disappointing for me … it was untenable to have a leader and a deputy leader from Queensland,” she said on Wednesday.

It came as a Liberal MP ousted by an independent said Morrison had lost credit with voters in his Sydney electorate.

Former Wentworth MP Dave Sharma, ousted by independent Allegra Spender, says voters did not believe Morrison or the coalition government was sincere.

“When you spoke to people … it was almost visceral, their reaction (to Morrison),” Sharma said.

“Undoubtedly, the (former) prime minister had lost some prestige and credit during over the last few years.”

The so-called ‘teal’ candidates like Spender positioned themselves cleverly to voters as an alternative, Sharma said.

But the moderate Liberal said he was not one of the MPs who urged former treasurer Josh Frydenberg – who also lost his seat to ‘teal’ independent Monique Ryan – to challenge Morrison for the leadership.

In September last year, some Liberal MPs urged Frydenberg to turn against the Liberal Party leader out of fear he was steering the government towards a crushing electoral defeat, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

“My view was, and remains, that we should stick with the leader we’ve got and take them to the election and if the electorate pronounces a verdict, as it has on this occasion, so be it,” Sharma said.

With Morrison stepping down as party leader on election night, there is no better option to take the party forward than Peter Dutton, Sharma said.

“He’s our most experienced parliamentarian … his first job and his main job is to hold the government to account and to be opposition leader,” he said.

-AAP

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