Scott Morrison breaks silence on his future after election 'flogging'
Former prime minister Scott Morrison has spoken publicly for the first time since giving a brief concession speech Saturday night in the wake of his party's disastrous federal election.
Mr Morrison's government conceded seats to independents, Labor and even to the Greens as voters rejected the Coalition's recalcitrance on key issues such as climate change and integrity in politics.
"On a night like tonight it is proper to acknowledge the functioning of our democracy. I've always believed in Australians and their judgement and I've always been prepared to accept their verdicts," he said late on election night, revealing on Saturday he would step aside as leader of the Liberals at the next party room meeting, expected next week.
But after retaining his NSW seat of Cook questions remained about whether Mr Morrison will continue on in parliament or quit altogether, forcing his electorate back to the polls for a by-election.
Speaking on 2GB on Thursday morning, Mr Morrison thanked his supporters and said "I've got no plans to go anywhere".
The former PM said he will continue on in his capacity as the member for Cook and is looking forward to "going back to being a quiet Australian in the shire" and serving his constituents.
It comes as many, including his own staff, predicted he would leave politics for the country's board rooms.
Ben Fordham: 'You recognise this was a flogging?'
2GB host Ben Fordham didn't mince his words about how the night went for Mr Morrison.
"As a footy fan, you recognise this was a flogging?" he asked.
"Of course, I'm disappointed by the result ... You accept the result and you move on," he replied.
'He's an extremist': Liberal Party mulls 'dangerous' new leader
Albanese delivers frank first message to China: 'Not changed'
International joy after Australia ditches ‘reckless’ climate problem
Mr Morrison said the females independents who took former safe seats from the party in affluent suburbs in Sydney and Melbourne need to be held accountable.
Dave Sharma, who lost his Sydney seat of Wentworth to teal independent Allegra Spender said on Wednesday the electorate's dislike of Mr Morrison was "visceral" – something which the 2GB host also put to the former PM.
"Those who were elected in those seats, well they've made big commitments about how they can change a whole lot of things, and well, we'll see," he said. "They should be held to account."
He added that the teal independents ran a "vicious" campaign.
Mr Morrison said he was "devastated" that former treasurer and deputy Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg was among those to lose his seat in the 'teal' wave.
"Josh was a huge part of the party’s future, and I certainly hope he still is in some way."
When asked how the party should respond under the expected leadership of Peter Dutton and whether it would move further to the right or look to reclaim the centre where it lost seats, Mr Morrison was coy.
"I am going to support the new leadership in the direction they will be taking.
"You've always got to stay true to your values," he added.
Pandemic meant people wanted to 'change the curtains': Scott Morrison
Mr Morrison said it was a "incredible honour" to serve as PM and used the interview to frame his time in the top job.
"I took some early advice after becoming a minister from [former treasurer] Peter Costello which was to never waste a day," he said. "And that's how I took to the job."
Mr Morrison said his government made the country "stronger and safer" and pointed to the AUKUS agreement and the recent free trade agreement with India as achievements.
While he lauded his actions during Covid, Mr Morrison suggested the pain and frustration of the pandemic meant the Australian people "wanted to change the curtains".
"The party will regroup and refocus under new leadership," he added.
'He hasn't got a career to go back to', says former Liberal leader
While it has been speculated Mr Morrison would leave politics for the board rooms of Australia, he has made no public statements to that effect yet.
Speaking to Yahoo News Australia on the eve of the election, former Liberal leader John Hewson who led the party from 1990 to 1994, believed Mr Morrison would stick around in parliament.
"He hasn't had a good career. A lot of the jobs he worked for – the Property Council, Tourism Australia ... he left each of those jobs in pretty poor circumstances.
"He hasn't really got a career to go back to," he said.
"I think he's there for the long haul, hanging in."
Former Labor leader Bill Shorten remains in parliament as shadow minister for the NDIS after leading the party to two consecutive election defeats in 2016 and 2019.
On the other side of politics, Tony Abbott stayed when he was ousted by Malcolm Turnbull, until the voters in his Sydney electorate kicked him out in 2019. So there is certainly recent precedent for Morrison to remain in the Liberal party room.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.