Malcolm Turnbull has been officially sworn in as Australia’s 29th Prime Minister and has praised the man he ousted as a “great Australian”.
Mr Turnbull met the Nationals this morning to strike a fresh bargain for Coalition government.
The staunch republican swore allegiance to the Queen at a hastily organised ceremony at Government House in Canberra this afternoon.
Mr Turnbull read out the oath of office, with deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop and his wife among the assembled supporters.
“I, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, do swear that I will well and truly serve the people of Australia in the office of prime minister and that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of Australia, so help me God,” he said.
Mr Turnbull staged the leadership coup yesterday afternoon, culminating in a Liberal party room vote that he won 54-44.
He has pledged to run a more collegiate, cabinet-focused government and to hold the line on the existing same-sex marriage and climate change policies that were endorsed by Tony Abbott as prime minister.
Mr Abbott delivered his own speech, conceding he had been ousted as a first-term prime minister after just two years in office.
He has partly blamed internal “white-anting” and “character assassination” in the media for his demise, but promised not to “wreck” his Government in retribution.
‘We owe a great debt to Tony Abbott’
Yesterday Mr Turnbull justified his decision to challenge for the leadership by criticising the Government’s economic record and its policy sales job.
“Ultimately, the Prime Minister has not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs,” Mr Turnbull said.
“He has not been capable of providing the economic confidence that business needs.”
Mr Abbott did not turn up to his allocated backbench seat during Question Time.
Mr Turnbull began his first Question Time as Prime Minister by arguing his predecessor should be recognised for his achievements.
“Our nation, our parliament, our government, our party — our parties, the Coalition — owe Tony Abbott an enormous debt of gratitude for his leadership and his service over many, many years,” he said.
“He led us out of opposition and back into government.
“Tony has discharged his role as prime minister — be it as leader of the opposition — with enormous distinction and achievement.”
That comment was met with laughter from the Labor benches, but the new Prime Minister pressed on.
“We owe a great debt to Tony Abbott, we thank him for his leadership, we thank him for his service, he is a great Australian and our country has been better, has been improved has been better led under his time as prime minister,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull said the free trade agreements clinched by the Abbott government were an example of success.
He also congratulated Mr Abbott for his border protection policies, arguing they allowed the government to provide for an additional 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
New Cabinet line-up not expected until weekend
The make-up of Mr Turnbull’s Cabinet it not expected to be known until the weekend, or perhaps even Monday, according to a Coalition briefing.
Mr Turnbull told this morning’s party room he is committed to a “broad church” approach to governing and is expected to make significant changes to the ministry.
Social Services Minister Scott Morrison looks likely to be handed the treasury portfolio, replacing Joe Hockey, who has been under fire from within his own party virtually ever since his first budget.
Mr Turnbull stated yesterday that “the prime minister has not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs”, and several of his supporters believe elevating Mr Morrison to the role of economic salesman is key to the stability and function of the Government.
There is speculation Education Minister Christopher Pyne will become defence minister, where he could oversee the process to acquire Australia’s next fleet of submarines.
South Australian MPs and senators, who feared electoral wipe-out with Mr Abbott at the helm, played a significant role in yesterday’s leadership change and many want the submarines to be built locally in Adelaide.
There is also a push for Mr Turnbull to promote more women and thrust younger talented Liberals, who currently hold junior roles, into the limelight.
There is a long list of contenders likely to put their name forward for higher honours, but South Australian senator Simon Birmingham, Victorian Kelly O’Dwyer and West Australian Christian Porter are among those often mentioned.
It is expected some senior Cabinet supporters of Mr Abbott, including Kevin Andrews, could be dumped in the shake-up.