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Dutton to lead Libs as Nationals eject Barnaby

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Former defence minister Peter Dutton has become the first Queenslander to lead the Liberal Party after a partyroom ballot, while coalition partner the Nationals have rejected Barnaby Joyce and elected David Littleproud in his place. 

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Dutton won a party room leadership spill in Canberra on Monday and will replace Scott Morrison who led the coalition to defeat at the federal election. Former environment minister Sussan Ley will be his deputy.

Morrison congratulated Dutton and Ley on winning the leadership positions.

“They are incredibly experienced, well versed, deeply, deeply committed Australians to both the liberal cause and of course the cause of the nation and I think they’ll do an outstanding job and I look forward to giving them all of my full support,” he said.

“It was a good opportunity for me to thank my colleagues for their great loyalty and support over these past more than three and a half years and to do that both on my behalf as well as on behalf of my dear friend Josh Frydenberg, who we’re all very sad couldn’t be with us today.

“It’s been a great privilege to lead the federal parliamentary Liberal Party and I hand it over to Peter and Sussan and wish them all the very best.”

Ahead of the vote by Liberal MPs, Queensland’s Stuart Robert said the pair would be unopposed.

“(I’m) super happy about the party room and the leadership team we’re bringing in,” he told Nine Network on Monday.

Dutton is the first Queenslander to lead the Liberal Party since it was founded in 1944.

The Dickson MP had been touted as Morrison’s likely replacement since the coalition lost government on May 21.

Dutton, a former police officer, had spruiked his credentials for the job of opposition leader.

“In a prime minister you need someone who won’t buckle in hard times and will stand up for our country and I have proven that in the portfolios I’ve had,” he wrote on Facebook.

“My work ethic is second to none and I have the skill and experience having served five leaders and have learnt from each.”

Dutton has pledged to take the party back to its core values and represent the aspirational “forgotten people” of Australia.

“We aren’t the Moderate Party. We aren’t the Conservative Party. We are Liberals,” the post said.

Soon after the Liberals elected Dutton and Ley, the Nationals elected David Littleproud leader.

Littleproud ousted former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce following a post-election leadership spill in Canberra on Monday morning, with NSW Senator Perin Davey elected deputy.

Three people each had nominated for the leader and deputy positions.

Ahead of the party room meeting in Canberra, Joyce was “sanguine” about retaining his leadership of the Nationals despite facing a challenge.

Joyce made his case on the Seven Network, saying the junior coalition party must be doing something right given it retained all its seats at the federal election.

“We won every seat we had before the election, we had three retiring members and still won the seats (and) we were in striking distance of one of the two seats we will be able to take in the next election,” he said.

“The Liberals lost 19 seats. In the last two elections, that I’ve been the leader, we’ve only picked up seats. We must be doing something right but the job is not over.”

Despite the Nationals retaining all their seats at the May 21 poll under Joyce, he was accused of having Liberal blood on his hands after his party’s support of coal turned inner-city voters off sitting moderate Liberals.

Former moderate Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman, who lost his North Sydney seat after a 12.5 per cent swing against him, accused Nationals MPs of derailing the campaign for inner-city seats.

“There’s a whole package of reasons we lost in inner-city seats like mine. Clearly, climate change was one of the key issues,” he told the ABC.

Nationals senator Matt Canavan’s strong support of coal mining and his opposition to the coalition policy of net-zero emissions by 2050 impacted the inner-city vote, Zimmerman added.

“I thought Matt Canavan’s intervention was one of the killer moments for us.

“There was just an underlying suspicion that at the end of the day that people like Canavan .. and Barnaby Joyce would prevail if we were elected.”

Zimmerman called on the coalition to recognise Labor’s policy of a 43 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, which was significantly higher than the 26 to 28 per cent target the coalition took to the election.

-with AAP

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