CANBERRA -- A “humbled” Malcolm Turnbull will be sworn in on Tuesday as Australia’s 29th Prime Minister and has promised a “thoroughly Liberal” and consultative government "committed to freedom, the individual and the market".
The former Communications Minister stunned the nation late on Monday by ousting Tony Abbott in a Liberal party room ballot, 54 to 44, with one informal vote.
At just two years in the job, Abbott becomes the shortest serving Prime Minister since Harold Holt, while Turnbull will be Australia’s sixth Prime Minister in eight years, dating back to John Howard.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop easily retained her role as deputy leader after a late challenge from veteran Defence Minister Kevin Andrews failed 70 to 30.
In his first press conference as Prime Minister-elect, Turnbull declared he was “very humbled by the great honour and responsibility that has been given to me today", adding the government would run full term.
Turnbull promised the Government’s leadership and messaging is about to change.
“The culture of our leadership is going to be one that is thoroughly consultative, a traditional thoroughly traditional Cabinet government that ensures that we make decisions in a collaborative manner,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“The Prime Minister of Australia is not a president.”
Turnbull has made several concessions to the party’s right, including keeping the current climate targets of 26-28 percent of 2005 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2030, committing to a plebiscite on same-sex marriage and agreeing not to go to an early election.
“My assumption is the Parliament will serve its full term,” Turnbull said.
But, he gave himself some wriggle room on the climate target.
Policies are reviewed and adapted all the time. But the climate policy is one that I think has been very well designed. That was a very, very good piece of work.”
Ministerial changes are expected, particularly the crucial Treasury portfolio currently held by Joe Hockey.
The new leadership team will meet the Abbott Ministry on Tuesday morning and changes are expected to be announced after the end of the parliamentary sitting.
Turnbull paid tribute to Abbott, saying the nation owed him and his family a great debt.
“The burden of leadership is a very heavy one,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“Tony has discharged that as leader of the party and, of course, as Prime Minister over many years now and the achievements of the government that he has led have been formidable.”
He highlighted the three free-trade negotiations during his term, the tough border protection policies and the recent “increased and generous” decision to accept an extra 12,000 Syrian refugees.
“I want to thank Tony very much indeed for that,” he said.
Turnbull comes without key policy proposals but has promised better economic leadership and a better chance to win the next election, due in the middle of next year.
“There has never been a more exciting time to be alive than today and there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian,” he said.
“My firm belief is that to be a successful leader in 2015, perhaps at any time, you have to be able to bring people with you by respecting their intelligence in the manner you explain things.”
He revealed he has looked to the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key for leadership.
“John Key has been able to achieve very significant economic reforms in New Zealand by doing just that, by explaining complex issues and then making the case for them,” Turnbull said.
The Liberal Party leadership trigger was pulled on Monday by both Turnbull and Bishop when they separately confronted Abbott in his office.
Abbott has lost the prime ministership just days before a crucial by-election in Canning and after he pleaded with his party to not be like the “revolving door” of the Labor Party.
It is the sixth time in five years a sitting Australian Prime Minister has faced a party room revolt.