Peter Dutton will likely become the nation’s next opposition leader after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced he would step down as he conceded election defeat.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg who was touted as a future leader is at risk of losing his seat to independent Monique Ryan after suffering a more than 10 per cent swing against him.
The party will choose a new leader when it next meets, but Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said it’s not an urgent move for an opposition.
“There’s not so much urgency on that in opposition so I think we need to take that time to make sure we are clear about who is part of the team going forward,” he told the ABC.
“(We’ll) then look very carefully at the options in deciding that. Australia needs a strong alternative government.”
The party is likely to wait until the election results are finalised and party room numbers are confirmed before meeting to elect a new leader, he added.
Senator Birmingham said the party needed to listen to the community after they faced an electoral wipeout in inner-city seats, with five “teal” independents set to claim victory over Liberals.
“If the Liberal Party can listen and unite, in terms of listening to the messages the electorate has sent us … and then unite in terms of how we respond to those then we have an enormous opportunity,” he said.
Sydney’s Allegra Spender, Sophie Scamps and Kylea Tink and Melbourne-based former journalist Zoe Daniel are all independents on track to claim seats.
But Mr Frydenberg has so far refused to concede the Melbourne seat of Kooyong to Ms Ryan, but acknowledged the gap would be hard to narrow.
“While it’s mathematically possible that we win in Kooyong, it’s definitely difficult,” he said.
In his concession speech, Mr Morrison said he hoped his treasurer and friend would retain his seat.
“Josh, I can’t just call a friend, I can refer to him as a brother. Josh and I have a deep and abiding friendship,” he said.
“I want to wish you and your family the best for the future. I’m looking forward to those counts improving because Josh Frydenberg should be remaining in this Liberal Party and remaining in the federal Parliament.”
Mr Dutton also expressed sorrow for his Liberal colleagues as he claimed victory in his Brisbane-based seat of Dickson.
“We have, as a Liberal family, suffered a terrible day today. There are some amazing people who supported the Liberal Party day in, day out. Through good times and bad,” he said.
“They are hurting tonight. I want to acknowledge them. I want to acknowledge the work of the prime minister and Josh Frydenberg.”