Newly elected leader of the Liberal Party, Scott Morrison (right) addresses media at a press conference alongside Josh Frydenberg (left) at Parliament House in Canberra. Photo: AAP/Sam Mooy
Newly elected leader of the Liberal Party, Scott Morrison (right) addresses media at a press conference alongside Josh Frydenberg (left) at Parliament House in Canberra. Photo: AAP/Sam Mooy

Spotlight on ‘sole survivor’ of crisis

IT'S hard to see anyone come out of this messy, madcap and mutinous week of blood-curdling politics with their dignity intact.

However, the new Liberal Deputy Leader Josh Frydenberg has managed to do just that.

In fact, he has enhanced his standing among colleagues and afforded himself the true opportunity he craves to realise his ultimate ambition - to lead his party and, if he continues to work as hard for luck as he has been, his country.

Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg after winning the vote in the Liberal leadership spill. Picture: Kym Smith
Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg after winning the vote in the Liberal leadership spill. Picture: Kym Smith

Frydenberg is a one time political staffer for Liberal Attorney-General Daryl Williams, Foreign Minister and Prime Minister John Howard, who went on to be an executive with global finance behemoth Deutsche Bank.

He switched to politics and won the prized Liberal seat of Kooyong in Melbourne's east. Frydenberg didn't waste time and it wasn't long before he became a junior minister under Tony Abbott to whom he showed complete loyalty.

He flourished under Malcolm Turnbull and grew in stature through his work with the National Energy Guarantee.

His colleagues, who often don't trust his ambition but admire his work ethic, watched what he did with energy and gave him full credit.

Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison congratulate each other. Picture: Ray Strange
Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison congratulate each other. Picture: Ray Strange

But it is the way Frydenberg has conducted himself both as a minister and in this latest leadership shambles that has shown him to be someone who has earned the right to rise to the top rung of party promise.

He has always been loyal to the leader, having supported Abbott in 2015 but then falling in behind Turnbull straight away and staying in his corner until the bitter end.

He entered Friday's party room contest without any blood on his hands, putting himself forward in a contest that was not of his making.

He came out of with a first-round victory over his colleagues Steven Ciobo and Greg Hunt - 46 votes to Ciobo's 20 and Hunt's 16. It doesn't get much more decisive than that.

The other thing that Frydenberg brings to the table is an ability to prosecute the Government's case that's almost second to none.

He is articulate and always across his brief. He has a formidable recall of facts and figures and can marshall an argument with skill.

He also can step up as a warrior in Parliament and the media, not afraid to take on Labor and push his party's policies and positions.

His progress hasn't been fault free having moved too quickly on climate policy when in late 2016 he embraced an emissions intensity scheme - which was Labor's policy at the time.

Turnbull left his minister high and dry by disowning any suggestion such a policy would be adopted. It was lesson Frydenberg learned and insisted he wouldn't repeat.

Dennis Atkins is The Courier-Mail's national affairs editor.



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