Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has taken a dig at Liberal leader Peter Dutton following his party’s shock defeat at the Aston by-election.
In a historic win, Labor’s Mary Doyle snatched the once blue-ribbon seat in Melbourne‘s eastern suburbs from Liberal candidate Roshena Campbell on Saturday.
The loss of a former Liberal stronghold is a devastating blow to the party which is reeling from a string of defeats having been recently turned out of office in NSW following the state election last Saturday.
It represents the first by-election win by a federal government in over a century.
Mr Albanese celebrated the surprise win with Ms Doyle in Melbourne on Sunday but managed to take a moment to blame Mr Dutton for the upset.
The Opposition leader has since broken his silence and revealed his plans for the party’s future as speculation swirled he would step down as leader.
It was all smiles for Labor after the Aston by-election Mary Doyle (pictured left) claimed the seat securing a historic win for the government of Anthony Albanese (pictured right)
‘After ten years of being part of the problem, Peter Dutton now fails to be a part of the solution,’ Mr Albanese said.
Mr Albanese said that he agreed with the comments made by Mr Dutton during a press conference following the by-election upset on Saturday night.
‘I thought it was a moment of honesty from Peter Dutton when he said out loud what we have seen played out over the one year since he became leader of the Liberal party,’ he said.
‘He said his priority was just keeping the Liberal party together.
‘Well Australians don’t want any major party that is only focused on themselves.
‘What they want is a government and an internal government that’s focused on their needs and their issues.’
Mr Dutton told ABC program Insiders on Sunday morning that he had no intention of stepping down as leader despite many pundits saying the by-election was a gauge of his performance.
‘We have a lot of work to do, I accept responsibility as I’m the leader of the party,’ the coalition chief said.
‘Now, the question is how we rebuild from here, the policies that we have, the brand rebuilding that we need to do in Victoria.
‘I can tell you it makes me more determined to rebuild this party and be in a winning position by 2025.’
Mr Dutton said the Liberals’ fundamental values would not change despite conceding the Liberal brand had ‘suffered terribly’ in Victoria over a long period of time and the party had failed the test set by voters in Aston.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton (pictured right) is set to have his leadership come under question after Liberal candidate Roshena Campbell (pictured left) was defeated in the Aston by-election
‘I think in recent years the Liberal Party has allowed itself to be defined by our opponents and I think it’s time for us to take that back,’ he said.
‘To stand up for what we believe in, whether it’s trendy or not, and some of that, I believe, is what the Australian public demand, particularly in our seats in outer metro areas and regional areas.’
Mr Dutton said Australians with conservative views about gender should be allowed to debate transgender rights because he said the issue was important to many people in the outer suburbs and regional areas.
During the Aston campaign, the Liberal Party suspended Victorian state MP Moira Deeming for attending an anti-transgender rights protest in Melbourne that neo-Nazis attended.
Although Ms Deeming and the rally’s organisers said the neo-Nazis gatecrashed the event and condemned their actions, Mr Dutton told the federal Coalition party room last the saga would damage the Liberals’ chances in the by-election.
Mr Dutton wouldn’t be directly drawn on Ms Deeming’s participation in the rally on Sunday, saying: ‘I don’t believe that our MPs should be going to anti-anything rallies to be honest.’
But he said the debate on transgender rights issues should be allowed to go ‘two ways’.
‘There are very strong views within many parts of Australian society,’ he said.
‘Maybe not right here in the inner city areas of our country, but in the outer metropolitan areas this is an issue in terms of women’s rights and the gender issue that has parents and others very worked up.’
On climate change, Mr Dutton said he would accept the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report warning the world is in a ‘last chance decade’ to stop destructive global warming.
Former union official and breast cancer survivor Ms Doyle (pictured left with Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles) won the seat previously held by Liberal Cabinet minister Alan Tudge is a dramatic swing to Labor
‘I’m happy to accept it,’ Mr Dutton said.
‘But we need to be realist why about what we can do as a country and driving businesses off shore will only increase emissions into the global environment and it will lose Australian jobs and lose productivity.’
Mr Dutton suggested the Liberal Party had itself down in the eyes of voters by not publicly celebrating the strong environmental record he said the party had achieved.
‘We have been the worst salespeople in terms of what we’ve done for the environment,’ he said.
‘The claims made by the Prime Minister today about the amount of solar, the amount of hydro, the battery investment in our country, all happened under a Liberal government.
‘The problem is we never prosecuted the argument. We were never successful in getting out there telling people what we had done.’
Mr Dutton said some of the Liberal Party’s attributes were ‘frankly timeless’ and ‘worth re-prosecuting’ and said the party would release any policies it planned to take to the next federal election ‘in due course’.
‘We stand for aspiration. We stand for entrepreneurialism, so small businesses, we stand for national security obviously, and we always stand for cleaning up a Labor mess when we get back into government so that people can make their own choices,’ he said.
‘It’s all is about timing in this business and now is not the time to be putting out costed policies and changes to taxation policy or social policy or otherwise.’
Mr Dutton he had no intention of standing aside as leader and vowed to rebuild the party to put it in a winning position at the next federal election.
The Aston by-election, triggered by the resignation of sitting MP and former Liberal cabinet minister Alan Tudge, was widely viewed as a test of both Mr Dutton’s leadership and the Albanese government’s performance in its first 10 months in office.
Labor’s victory was the first time the government has won a seat of the opposition at a by-election in more than a century.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk