'Murdoch's First Warning': News Corp Columnist Calls to Replace Australian PM With Defence Minister

© AP Photo / Rick RycroftAustralia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a press conference in Sydney, Australia on April 27, 2021
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a press conference in Sydney, Australia on April 27, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.02.2022
Speculations about another leadership spill, or a party room vote for prime minister in Australia's ruling Liberal Party come ahead of a federal election later this year. Two former Australian prime ministers — Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull — have been ousted by their own MPs since 2015.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced a scathing political attack on his leadership abilities from one of the most widely watched conservative commentators in the country, who has predicted that the PM may soon be replaced by cabinet colleague and federal Defence Minister Peter Dutton.

"Peter Dutton, get ready to lead. Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks finished, and is now making a fool of himself to get some love", Andrew Bolt wrote in a column published in the Melbourne-based Herald Sun on Monday. The newspaper is one of the flagship publications of News Corp Australia, owned by Australian-American media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

Bolt, who also hosts a popular talk show on Sky News, is reputed to be a backer of Australia's ruling Liberal Party.

"Dutton must be the Liberals' next leader, at least if Morrison falls before the election. He is an instantly known quantity. Instantly dangerous", Bolt argued in his column.

The conservative commentator also slammed the Australian PM for showing up at a Melbourne salon last week and washing a woman's hair there, an act that has been described as a publicity stunt to salvage the federal government's approval ratings under Morrison.
"Stinking in the polls, called a liar by his own deputy, and mocked as out of touch for not knowing the price of bread, Morrison on Friday hit back. He called in at a Melbourne hairdresser's and … washed a woman's hair", Bolt mockingly noted in his opinion piece.
Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison smiles during an interview with Reuters in Phnom Penh September 26, 2014. Cambodia has agreed to resettle potentially hundreds of refugees intercepted while trying to reach Australia in exchange for an extra A$40 million ($35 million) in aid, Australia's immigration minister said on Friday.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.02.2022
'Ohh FFS': Australians Roast PM Morrison for Washing Apprentice's Hair During Election Campaign
Newspoll, a widely followed opinion poll published in The Australian last week showed that the opposition Labor Party led the government by 56-44 and would have won power in a landslide should an election have been held then. The margin in favour of the Labor Party is the highest since September 2018.
Morrison's approval ratings, on the other hand, dropped by 11 points, although he still led Labor leader Anthony Albanese in ratings.
Bolt did balance his excruciating criticism of Morrison claiming that it was still "early" to write him off, but it was up to Liberal MPs to decide who their next leader would be in the event of a leadership spill.
He called Dutton the "best option" for the top job whenever Morrison quits the post.
Bolt's column has evoked sharp reactions in the country, with former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd labelling it the "first warning" to Morrison by Murdoch.
"Murdoch's first warning via the odious Andrew Bolt in support of a coup by his far right mate Dutton. Murdoch is utterly unsentimental about which Tory he has in power, so long as it's his Tory — a desperate effort to keep them in office and protect his interests", Rudd posted on Twitter.
Bolt's column comes after ex-Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, a former Labor politician, accused Dutton of calling Morrison a "complete psycho" in a leaked text conversation.
The text exchange took place between Dutton and party colleague Gladys Berejiklian, the former premier of New South Wales.
Dutton on Sunday rejected that he had ever sent such a text. However, the defence minister's rejection of the text exchange was questioned by Carr on Monday. The former opposition politician wondered as to who would gain the most by "undermining" an already "flailing" PM.
"Only one way Peter Dutton can win his case: get another colleague to admit that they were the source for comments about the prime minister. If not you, Mr Dutton, which of your colleagues? Until then who has [the] most to gain from undermining further a flailing PM?", wrote Carr.
Carr has claimed that Dutton already enjoys the support of government MPs if the Liberals opt for a leadership spill.
Dutton, a former immigration minister under ex-Liberal PMs Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, is known to harbour leadership ambitions.
He had challenged former Australian leader Turnbull for PM in August 2018, a spill he narrowly lost. However, days later, Turnbull was deposed by his own party in another leadership contest and replaced by Morrison.
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