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Morrison's test: safest leader since Menzies must use his capital

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24.05.2019

If Australian voters wanted stability in leadership, their wish has been granted. After last Saturday's election, Scott Morrison has a Menzian level of security in the prime ministership. Perhaps the bigger question for voters is: How will he use it?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with a portrait of Liberal Party pioneer Sir Robert Menzies. Credit:AAP

In Robert Menzies’ second period in the Lodge (1949-1966), there was never a murmur in his party room about replacing him. For years the press freely speculated about a retirement date, but Menzies would go when he felt like it. His deputy, Harold Holt, was correctly assumed by all to be the next leader but Holt consistently urged Menzies to keep on going.

Since Menzies, leadership rivalry has almost permanently haunted the Liberals' federal parliamentary party room: John Gorton v Billy McMahon, Malcolm Fraser v Billy Snedden, Fraser v Andrew Peacock, Peacock v John Howard, Howard v Peter Costello, Malcolm Turnbull v Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton v Turnbull, Morrison v Dutton.

It helps Morrison that all but one of the former leadership contenders are no longer around. Dutton was comfortably returned in his seat but he's giving every indication of being utterly committed to the success of the Morrison-led government.

Yet it's more than a lack of rivals that makes Morrison secure. He wont have to think about looking over his shoulder because he changed the rules.........

© The Age