Australia’s outgoing defense minister, Peter Dutton, is considering leaning towards the Liberal leadership after the party suffered a major defeat at the polls, according to reports.
Dutton unsuccessfully challenged then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the job in 2018, but has remained a senior Liberal under Scott Morrison.
The former drug squad policeman has been in the cabinet since 2013 and retained Dickson’s seat in Queensland, which he has held for more than two decades.
He is expected to announce his candidacy in a matter of days, according to reports from the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
The Nine Headlines report that their message to their colleagues is that the Opposition must avoid a “long knife night” with recriminations for losing the election.
Outgoing Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews and Commerce Minister Dan Tehan are also reported to be considering running for party leadership.
Before the election, Dutton dodged speculation that he was considering running for the leadership, instead telling Channel 9 that he was “in the moment”.
“My head, to be honest, is very focused on the moment,” he said.
Dutton said his party remained a big shot at the polls and he expected surprise victories across the country.
“I think it’s incredibly tight,” he said.
But the party lost key seats in the election, including Higgins’ blue-ribbon seat, to Labour.