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Australia Has A New Prime Minister — Now What?

Australia will have a new prime minister: Malcolm Turnbull will lead after defeating Tony Abbott in a crucial vote. With the news, we asked BuzzFeed Australia news editor Rob Stott two quick questions about what's going on and what we can expect next.

Posted on September 14, 2015, at 12:54 p.m. ET

Australia has a new prime minister. What just happened? And what does this mean?

STOTT: The centre-right Liberal party has been in government in Australia for two years, and has been pretty unpopular for most of that time. In Australia you vote for a party, not a single candidate, so a party can change its leader and just like that we get a new prime minister. That’s what happened Monday night.

The conservative PM, Tony Abbott was dumped by his own party and replaced by the much more popular (and moderate) Malcolm Turnbull. It’s basically a group of politicians realising that if they kept going like this they would lose their job, so they stabbed their leader in the back. They’re hoping that voters will forgive them for some of the mistakes of the past two years and the government can start with a clean slate.

What can we expect next?

STOTT: The big thing is that Turnbull is much closer to the political centre than Tony Abbott was. Abbott is known as the ‘Mad Monk’. He’s very religious, doesn’t really believe in climate change and his economic policies often left the poor and working class people at a disadvantage. Turnbull is much more moderate. He has been a long time supporter of marriage equality and has publicly campaigned for action on climate change.

So tomorrow, Turnbull will go to the Governor General (the queen’s representative in Australia) and tell him that he’s able to form a government. Then he has to get to work convincing people to re-elect his party when an election is held in about 12 months’ time. It could be messy. He’s now the head of a very divided party and Australia has changed prime ministers a lot lately. Who knows what will happen from here.