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Australia's Prime Minister Is Ousted By His Own Party

Aug 24, 2018
Originally published on August 24, 2018 12:07 pm
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NOEL KING, HOST:

All right, some interesting news out of Australia this morning. For the sixth time in 10 years, Australia has a new prime minister. This comes after a week of partisan feuding. And the man who finds himself in the top job is a complete surprise. Louisa Lim is reporting for NPR News from Melbourne.

LOUISA LIM, BYLINE: It's been a head-spinning week in Australian politics and has produced a new prime minister, who until two days ago swore he didn't want the job. Former Treasurer Scott Morrison won the post in a surprise twist during an internal leadership contest in the ruling Liberal Party. ScoMo, as he's known here, is a conservative famed for his tough stance on asylum-seekers.

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PRIME MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON: My plan for this country is for an even stronger Australia, to keep our economy strong, to guarantee the essentials that Australians rely on, to keep Australians safe from terrorism.

LIM: His boss, Malcolm Turnbull, the millionaire politician, is now out. Turnbull's remembered for his testy relationship with President Trump, who reportedly hung up on him in their first phone call. But Turnbull's critics opposed him over a plan to cut emissions. This week, he was challenged by his own immigration minister, who in the end couldn't muster enough votes to win the ballot. In his final speech, Turnbull blasted what he called an insurgency inside his own party.

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MALCOLM TURNBULL: Australians will be just dumbstruck and so appalled by the conduct of the last week.

LIM: That was pretty much the mood in one Melbourne pub. Andrew Mackenzie and Adrian Branigan were spluttering into their pints.

ANDREW MACKENZIE: It really is a debacle. I’ve lost trust in the whole political system.

ADRIAN BRANIGAN: The last four prime ministers we've had haven’t served out their term, so we are becoming a joke.

LIM: The ruling party is left in tatters, destroyed by its own power play. And many are calling for an early election to return politics to the people. For NPR News, I'm Louisa Lim in Melbourne. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.