For new PM Turnbull, Australia remains strong; Abbott regrets 'leadership instability'
Australia on Tuesday got a new prime minister as former communications minister Malcolm Turnbull was sworn-in as PM at Canberra's Government House.
Canberra: Australia on Tuesday got a new prime minister as former communications minister Malcolm Turnbull was sworn-in as PM at Canberra's Government House.
Having ousted Tony Abbott in Liberal Party leadership spill yesterday night, Malcolm Turnbull became the nation's fourth PM in a time span as little as over two years.
Having taken oath as Australia's 29th PM, an evidently upbeat Turnbull said that the country remained strong “despite revolt”.
"There's been a change of prime minister, but we are a very, very strong government, a very strong country with a great potential and we will realize that potential working very hard together," Turnbull told reporters as he left his Canberra apartment on Tuesday morning.
Earlier, Turnbull had hailed it as the “most exciting time to be an Australian”.
However, a grim-faced Tony Abbott sulked at the “leadership instability” of the nation, warning that the persistent volatility in Australia's government could hurt the nation's standing on the global stage.
"Australia has a role to play in the struggles of the wider world: the cauldron of the Middle East and security in the South China Sea and elsewhere," Abbott told reporters. "I fear that none of this will be helped if the leadership instability that's plagued other countries continues to taint us," he said.
Abbott did not say during his speech whether he will quit politics. But said he would not destabilize the new prime minister.
However, he did post a tweet, expressing gratitude for "privilege of being Prime Minister".
Thank you for the privilege of being Prime Minister. My love for this country is as strong as ever. pic.twitter.com/CP0ioCzE1Z
— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) September 15, 2015
Turnbull's elevation has cemented a culture of disposable leaders as the new norm in Australian politics since the 11-year tenure of Prime Minister John Howard ended in 2007.
Turnbull, a 60-year-old former journalist, lawyer and merchant banker known for his moderate views, was party leader for two years before he was ousted in 2009 by Abbott by a single vote in a similar leadership ballot.
Abbott, a 57-year-old former Roman Catholic seminarian, has been described as the most socially conservative Australian prime minister in decades, while Turnbull is considered not conservative enough by the right wing of the party.
Abbott acknowledged his government had not been perfect, though he blamed the poll-heavy culture of modern politics for the frequent upheaval in the nation's leadership.
"We have been a government of men and women, not a government of gods walking upon the earth. Few of us, after all, entirely measure up to expectations," Abbott said. "The nature of politics has changed in the past decade. We have more polls and more commentary than ever before — mostly sour, bitter character assassination. Poll-driven panic has produced a revolving door prime ministership, which can't be good for our country. And a febrile media culture has developed that rewards treachery."
Turnbull's return to the helm will likely lead to a major Cabinet reshuffle, with Treasurer Joe Hockey and Defense Minister Kevin Andrews among the ministers who publicly supported Abbott.
The political turbulence comes as Australia enters its record 25th year of continuous economic growth. However, a cooling mining boom that helped Australia avoid recession during the global financial crisis has slashed tax revenue and slowed growth while a hostile Senate has blocked key parts of the government's financial agenda.
The Liberals were elected in 2013 as a stable alternative to the then-Labor government. Labor came to power under Kevin Rudd at elections in 2007, only to dump him for his deputy Julia Gillard in 2010 months ahead of elections. The bitterly divided and chaotic government then dumped Gillard for Rudd just months before the 2013 election.
Successive opinion polls showed that the government was likely to lose in next September's elections under Abbott's leadership.
Opinion polls show that Turnbull is more popular than Abbott, but many of those who prefer him vote for the center-left Labor Party.
With Agency Inputs