Prime Minister Scott Morrison, his political standing severely damaged in recent polls over his handling of the bushfire crisis, has been buoyed by unqualified support from his most powerful ministerial colleague.
In an exclusive interview with The Bug via satellite phone from his rented holiday villa near Barcelona in Spain, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton (file picture, above) declared: “The PM has my full and total support at this point in time.”
“I firmly believe Scott is the man to lead us until someone else does.
“He needs to know I have his back.”
Mr Dutton continued: “There’s a fair bit of scuttlebutt going around at the moment that Mr Morrison can’t recover from the latest Newspoll finding that shows him with a minus-22-point approval rating.”
“I believe that’s absolute nonsense. There’s been a lot of scuttlebutt.
“But can he recover? Well, I think he can. Sure, it will take time but this government has only been re-elected and we do have time on our hands.
“The PM will really have to lift his performance and stop making basic and silly mistakes but I think he can do that. I really do.
“The one thing you won’t find me doing is kicking some poor guy when he’s down and out. It’s not the Peter Dutton way.”
Mr Dutton said the poor Newspoll result, backed up a day later by the Guardian Essential’s own findings, showed Mr Morrison had paid a hefty price “for some fairly average decision-making over recent times”.
“You don’t trail as preferred PM in both those polls unless you’ve displayed a terrible lack of leadership,” he said.
“But I’m calling on all my ministerial colleagues to give the PM time to turn things around.
“He pulled off a miracle victory exactly eight months ago today and it will be a miracle …. I mean he’s got it in him to work miracles once more.”
Mr Dutton’s strong support for his leader comes at a time when The Bug understands Mr Dutton’s numbers man, Senator Mathias Cormann, believes the Queensland ex-copper now has a confirmed 121 votes out of the 87 members of the Liberal federal parliamentary caucus.