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Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg get to work on first day in top jobs, as Liberals pick through wreckage

| 26.08,18. 01:21 AM |



Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg get to work on first day in top jobs, as Liberals pick through wreckage



Photo: Prime Minister Scott Morrison with his deputy, Michael McCormack. (Twitter: @ScottMorrisonMP)

Australia's 30th Prime Minister Scott Morrison has begun his first day in the job discussing possible ministerial appointments with his colleagues, as Liberals jostle for positions on the new-look frontbench.


Mr Morrison has the unenviable task of not only uniting his battered and bruised party, but also staring down an energised Opposition seeking to capitalise on the leadership turmoil of its rivals.


The new leader has foreshadowed ministerial announcements could be made as early as this weekend, indicating there could be a number of familiar faces as part of the line-up.


The Prime Minister also met with Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell for briefings, and with the National Drought Co-ordinator Major General Stephen Day to discuss the Federal Government's drought response.


"I'm from the city, I'm not pretending to know one end of a sheep from another," he said. "But I do know when people are hurting in our country and they have been hurting terribly."


The only frontbench position confirmed so far is that of Treasurer, with new deputy Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg sworn into the role on Friday.


The ABC understands Mathias Cormann, who met with Mr Morrison on Saturday morning, has agreed to continue as Finance Minister and as leader of the Government in the Senate.


In a clear attempt to project an image of stability, Mr Frydenberg appeared yesterday morning at a Melbourne cafe alongside former Treasurer Peter Costello.


"I will be turning to Peter for advice as I begin my role as Treasurer in the Morrison Government," Mr Frydenberg said.


"It is a great privilege to serve in this important position, and our job is to deliver lower taxes, more jobs, and to grow the Australian economy to create better standards of living for all Australians.


"We did disagree on our footy teams but Peter is a wonderful proud Victorian and I have to say that I'm really pleased as deputy leader and Treasurer, I follow in his very big footsteps and can help promote the Liberal Party and do a lot for Victoria."


Also on the agenda for Mr Morrison was a first phone call with US President Donald Trump, with the new Prime Minister describing the leaders' conversation as a "great discussion" which reaffirmed the strong ties between the two nations.


The future of Julie Bishop on the frontbench, and in parliament, remains unclear after Friday's ballot, with speculation she could quit politics altogether.


Mr Morrison praised her on Friday, describing her as "a rockstar for the Liberal Party, as a Foreign Minister, and for Twitter and Facebook."


In a statement on Saturday, Ms Bishop said she remained "committed to the interests of the people of Western Australia and our nation."


"Any decision about my future will be made in that context."


Backbenchers begin analysis of leadership battle


Some Liberal members and senators remain furious at how the past week's leadership brawl played out.


Tasmanian senator Jonathon Duniam argued there was a need to discuss changing the party rules, so leaders could not be deposed so easily.


"As it stands, the Liberal Party rules states that only two members of the parliamentary party can bring about a leadership spill, and as we've seen last week, once the action is put in motion, it can rarely be stopped," Senator Duniam said in a statement.


"The leadership model implemented by the Labor Party after the Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard debacle in 2010, which requires 75 per cent of the vote to change the leader in government and 60 per cent in opposition, has seemingly proven effective in maintaining stable leadership.


"I'm not necessarily advocating for this model to be adopted, but it's worth considering all alternatives."


The frustration among members stretches to the tactics and arguments those agitating for Malcolm Turnbull to be dumped used during the battle.


Victorian Liberal MP Tim Wilson said Australians were annoyed at the way the situation had played out, and it was up to those calling for a sitting prime minister to be rolled to explain their actions.


"I think the whole idea of the Liberal Party moving too far to the left is, frankly, fanciful," Mr Wilson told the ABC.


"I think people need to sit down and actually read some philosophy and actually understand what the words 'conservatism' and 'liberalism' mean.


"Because, when you do, you see that the Turnbull government was actually very consistent with those values."


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