Dutton’s stunning leadership promise

As the wounds of last year's leadership spill were reopened and examined in a powerful new doco, the man who kicked it all off has made a major promise to stop history repeating itself.

Wannabe Prime Minister Peter Dutton was the only man in the room who put his hand up when Malcolm Turnbull announced a spill, and he claims his actions played a crucial part in the Coalition's miracle win in May.

In the finale of a two-part series, titled Bad Blood/New Blood, which aired on Sky News on Tuesday and Wednesday night, Mr Dutton claimed he is no longer interested in the Liberal leadership.

 

 

 

He insisted he only put his hand up on that fateful day in August because he believed a Turnbull government could not be re-elected, and claimed his actions mean Scott Morrison could remain in power for three to six more years after this term.

"In doing what we did last August … we put the Liberal Party in the best possible position that it's been in for at least 20 years," he said.

"For me, it's very clear, and I hope this is the case that there is now a long period of Government under Scott Morrison."

Wednesday night's episode picked up from the point that Mr Morrison took the helm and showed the massive odds stacked against the Coalition going into this year's election.

It began with the crucial Wentworth by-election after Mr Turnbull resigned and showed how divided the party was as it tried to hang onto its tiny majority.

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton says he no longer has ambitions for leadership. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton says he no longer has ambitions for leadership. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Mr Turnbull was under fire for his role in creating the void and his perceived lack of support for Dave Sharma's failed campaign.

Christopher Pyne hit out at the criticism, telling Sky News he thought it was laughable that Mr Turnbull was copping it.

"To turn around and lecture Malcolm Turnbull about his obligations, I found it laugh out loud ridiculous," he said.

Mr Sharma also appeared to defend Mr Turnbull's role in the campaign, saying: "Would I have wished for more help? Certainly. Did I expect it? No."

Mr Morrison admitted that it seemed the Australian public was "very frustrated with us and with good reason" and added that he "wasn't surprised" by the Wentworth loss to independent candidate Kerryn Phelps.

However, following Labor's landslide Victorian state election result in November, New Blood shows how fears began to manifest within the party that the Liberal brand was toxic.

Mr Morrison said the result was "misunderstood" and pointed to Labor's strengths locally rather than issues with Coalition at a federal level, but it was clear the fallout of the leadership spill was still causing division within the party.

Christopher Pyne said some of the criticism of Malcolm Turnbull was “laugh out loud ridiculous”. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Christopher Pyne said some of the criticism of Malcolm Turnbull was “laugh out loud ridiculous”. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins

This was evidenced when Turnbull-aligned Julia Banks delivered a scathing critique of Australian politics in parliament after sensationally abandoning the governing Liberal Party and moving to the crossbench.

Mr Pyne told Sky News that Ms Banks will be remembered as a "quitter" for the defection which gave Labor even more ammunition as a federal election began to loom.

This buoyant mood in opposition at the time was described by former Labor Senator Stephen Conroy, and opinion polls around the country backed that belief.

"You can't win 50 Newspolls in a row and not think you're the favourite," he said.

However, several senior Liberal figures told Sky News they were quietly confident there was a "narrow path to victory" by persuading the "quiet Australians" who weren't represented in the polls - creating a shock result on election night like Brexit in the UK and Donald Trump's Presidential win.

Mr Dutton told the show he believed the Coalition had a better chance than they were given credit for because there was a real disconnect between the media and the public.

He said the Canberra Press Gallery didn't correctly predict Liberal win because it's so disconnected from real world.

"You can pick out on one hand that have credibility in the Gallery … but it's only a handful," he said.

 

 

All the while, Mr Morrison was plotting his path to victory, saying he was motivated by the everyday Australians he encountered on his holiday in Shoalhaven Heads, on NSW's South Coast.

He said it was there that he first penned his 'Quiet Australians' manifesto about the everyday Aussie battlers who don't care much for party politics and just want to get on with their lives.

He told Sky News journalist David Speers he was "sneered at" and "ridiculed" for the manifesto and his "daggy dad" personality during the election campaign, which he insisted was just him being him.

One of those who had faith in Mr Morrison was Josh Frydenberg who said he believed the Coalition had a chance, albeit a small one, of victory.

He says Mr Morrison's belief never wavered.

"Scott Morrison sent me a text message saying, "I'm going to campaign until I fall over,'" he said. "He actually said he believed in miracles."

 

Scott Morrison said he was mocked for his ‘Quiet Australians’ manifesto. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images
Scott Morrison said he was mocked for his ‘Quiet Australians’ manifesto. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

In the end, we all know how it played out and it's clear some senior Liberals think their roles in last year's leadership spill played a crucial part in the historic win in May.

However, several others also said the spill has done damage to the party and to Australia as a whole.

Mr Sharma said it did little to advance Australia's reputation on the world stage.

"It doesn't help Australia's international reputation … and it lessens our credibility and voice in global forums," he said.

Veteran Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos, who was a former staffer to long-term Prime Minister John Howard, said the spill shows how authority is no longer respected in the way it used to be.

"The atmosphere has been quite different to what it used to be," he said. "The authority of leaders seems to be considerably less."

The second episode of the Bad Blood/ New Blood miniseries aired on Wednesday night at 8pm on Sky News Live and Foxtel.

 

Click here, for a recap of last night's episode


Aussie scientist’s ‘exhilarating’ Moon landing role

Aussie scientist’s ‘exhilarating’ Moon landing role

Aussie's ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ came from studying rocks

Walking netball courts seniors

Walking netball courts seniors

Join in for recreational fitness or for competition

ISIS fanatics sentenced to death

ISIS fanatics sentenced to death

The three ‘human beasts’ beheaded two female friends