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‘#libspill’: Dutton ‘auditions’ for PM’s job

Peter Dutton has laughed off speculation he is preparing to challenge Scott Morrison for the Liberal Party leadership.

The Defence Minister hosed down the suggestion with a dry-humoured joke.

Mr Dutton has performed a media blitz over the past week, talking to multiple press outlets about his concerns over the threat of China and delivering an impassioned speech at the National Press Club on Friday.

Labor senator Penny Wong took the opportunity to throw fuel on the fire about a potential leadership spill, declaring Mr Dutton had “auditioned” for the role of Prime Minister.

“Today Peter Dutton auditioned for Scott Morrison’s job,” Senator Wong said.

“With Mr Morrison looking over his shoulder you can expect more desperate political tactics ahead.”

But Mr Dutton remained tight-lipped about the rumours when questioned on Friday, joking he would not seek to take over the prime ministership for another few decades.

“Have you said that you have ambition, still, for the leadership of the party?” one reporter asked.

“When the Morrison government comes to an end and when the Prime Minister retires in 2049 I’ve suggested that I, as a young man, would be available if the party saw fit,” Mr Dutton said.

“So ask me again around 2048 and we’ll see how we go.”

Mr Dutton lost the leadership vote to Mr Morrison 45 votes to 40 in 2018.

Mr Dutton joked that he would not seek the prime ministership until 2049. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

Mr Dutton joked that he would not seek the prime ministership until 2049. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

The revived speculation about the future of the Liberal leadership comes as Mr Morrison struggles to regain his previous popularity with voters.

While Mr Morrison’s popularity remains ahead of Labor leader Anthony Albanese, the latest Newspoll shows the Coalition is trailing the Labor Party 47 to 53 per cent.

If this result was emulated at an election, Mr Morrison would experience a resounding loss.

An election is due between January and May next year.

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