The Minister for Home Affairs,
Peter Dutton, has told allies he still harbours ambitions as Liberal leader,
but is preparing to have his ambitions thwarted as Prime Minister Scott
Morrison unveiled the Government’s new-look frontbench this week.
Allies of the Minister for Home Affairs said he pledged loyalty to the Liberal–National Party’s newly installed leadership team and launched a stinging attack on corporate Australia and sections of the media over the party’s shock victory at the May 18 election.
“The business world, the media
and the polls said we were gone, and we managed to win, and to quote Paul
Keating, it was the sweetest victory of all,” a key ally of Mr Dutton said.
Mr Dutton has decided against
moving to the backbench and will serve on the Government’s frontbench in a move
being widely interpreted by colleagues as a sign he still harbours leadership
Several allies of Mr Dutton
told media outlets he has not abandoned the idea of regaining the Liberal
leadership, despite being rejected by fellow Liberal MPs in two consecutive
leadership ballots in August 2018.
“It is important that we take our time to reflect,” the key ally said, “but it’s also important that we place competitive pressure on our leader to perform. If that’s interpreted as having leadership ambitions, then so be it.”
But another spokesman for Mr
Dutton said the claim was “bullshit”.
“The only thing he’s up for is
fighting for Liberal values and supporting the newly re-elected
Liberal–National government,” the spokesman said.
Mr Dutton used a private speech
to some Liberal MPs to endorse Mr Morrison as the Liberal Party’s leader,
despite the pair’s long-standing rivalry and Dutton’s failed leadership
challenges last year.
Mr Morrison said Mr Dutton had a significant role to play over the next three years and welcomed his inclusion in Cabinet.
The Government is likely to
hold 77 seats in the House of Representatives compared to Labor’s 68. The
latest Australian Electoral Commission count shows Labor suffered a national
swing against it of 1.34 per cent.