Federal election 2022

Scott Morrison’s strategy to win outer suburban and regional seats from Labor and hang on to power failed in the 2022 election, with Peter Dutton emerging as the man most likely to be the next leader of the Liberal Party.

Josh Frydenberg, the man considered most likely to challenge Dutton for the leadership of the Liberal Party, conceded he was likely to lose the blue-ribbon Liberal seat of Kooyong, with 39 per cent of the vote counted.

Peter Dutton is poised to be the next leader of the Liberal Party.Credit:Jamila Toderas

Morrison announced he would quit as leader of the Liberal Party at the next meeting of the party room “to ensure the party can be taken forward under new leadership, which is the appropriate thing to do”, though he said he would continue to represent his seat of Cook.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the prime minister needed to take responsibility for the loss, which had happened despite “some pretty amazing successes in coming through what has been a most trying time in Australia’s history”.

“But we also have to share responsibility for the blame, too, where we have lost seats and where we have gone backwards. So I cop that on my shoulders and I’ve got no doubt that Scott, as the leader, will take it on his as well,” Birmingham said.

Dutton paid tribute to Morrison and Frydenberg on the night, as he said the race was still tight in a number of contests and that “I want to acknowledge the pain” of colleagues facing the loss of their seats.

Five hours after the polls closed on Saturday night and with 52 per cent of the vote counted, it was clear the Coalition could not form government as a swag of Coalition seats fell to Labor, the teal independents and the Greens.

During the election campaign Morrison refused to say whether he would remain in parliament if he lost the election but the widespread expectation in Liberal ranks was that Morrison would at least quit as leader.

In the early stages of the count, both Frydenberg and Dutton were trailing in their seats to a teal and Labor candidate, respectively.

But with 50 per cent of the vote counted, Dutton had pegged back the Labor lead and was leading in the two-party-preferred lead of 52.8 to 47.2 per cent while Frydenberg, first elected in 2010, appeared headed for the exit.

Morrison’s strategy of targeting outer suburban and regional seats and flip them from Labor – including Parramatta, Lingiari, McEwen and Corangamite – mostly failed for the Coalition, even after a final week blitz of outer suburban housing estates.

But the party was ahead in the Labor held Tasmanian seat of Lyons and in the NSW seat of Gilmore.

Back-biting and recriminations have already begun as a wave of moderate Liberals in the party’s traditional heartland seats were swept aside and Labor edged towards majority government.

One Liberal MP, who asked not to be named so he could discuss the fall out of the Liberal loss, said “a lot of good people have lost their seats” and that “Morrison has dragged us down”.

“It’s quite clear that we have lost the election, we haven’t been successful and there has been a heavy vote against the leader”.

A second Liberal MP, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the result in Victoria, in particular, was a “disaster” for the party.

“Some people will say this result means we need to move to the Left. That’s not right, the problem is we aren’t Right enough. Dutton has to be the next leader.”

A third MP said simply: “Morrison has to go after this. ”

Labor looked set to win Robertson and Reid in NSW, Chisholm and Higgins in Victoria, Boothby in South Australia and four seats in Western Australia – Hasluck, Pearce, Swan and Tangney.

The teal wave saw independents win Wentworth, North Sydney, Mackellar and Goldstein in addition to Kooyong, which combined with the Greens gaining seats in Queensland, will see the crossbench effectively double in size in a stunning result.

Cut through the noise of the federal election campaign with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Sign up to our Australia Votes 2022 newsletter here.

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