Former Defence Minister Peter Dutton, a conservative hardliner, was elected on Monday as the new leader of the Australian Liberal Party, which had fallen into opposition after his defeat in the May 21 general election against the Labour Party.
Mr. Dutton, who faced no rival to take over the leadership of the party, promised to put the party back in the saddle for the next election in 2025, and to prepare a plan to “clean up the inevitable mess that Labour will leave”.
Before that, this former policeman, very marked on the right and adept at muscular declarations, will have the main task of restoring unity within the Liberal Party. A formation deeply divided between moderates and hard-line conservatives, the main bone of contention being the policy to be adopted on climate change.
Peter Dutton, 51, has served several times as a minister under previous Conservative governments, including holding the portfolios of Immigration and Home Affairs.
While serving as defense minister under previous Prime Minister Scott Morrison, he compared Chinese President Xi Jinping’s geopolitical ambitions in the Asia-Pacific to Nazi expansionism in the 1930s.
“The only way to preserve peace is to prepare for war,” he said at the time.
On Monday, he said that “the issue of China under President Xi will be the biggest problem that our country will have to face in our lifetime.”
Australia’s new prime minister Anthony Albanese, however, praised Dutton last week, calling him more reliable than Morrison. “Peter Dutton never betrayed the trust I placed in him,” he said.