PM Scott Morrison turns attention to forming a new ministry

The first task for Scott Morrison as the new prime minister will be to put together an election-ready coalition frontbench.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will spend the weekend looking at which fresh talent to promote and experienced hands to keep on his frontbench, as he takes over from Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull stepped down from the Liberal leadership on Friday, after 43 of his colleagues signed a petition calling for a spill to end a week of what he described as an "insurgency" led by conservatives Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott.

Some of the signatories were not supporters of Mr Dutton - who lost an initial spill on Tuesday but did not give up - and merely wanted to clear the air.

Mr Morrison also grouped himself among those who remained loyal to Mr Turnbull but threw his hat in the ring when the leadership was vacated.

New Deputy Prime Minister Josh Frydenberg joined his Howard-era counterpart Peter Costello for a coffee in Melbourne on Saturday.

Mr Frydenberg said they disagreed on footy teams and he'd be going somewhere if he could be half as funny as Mr Costello in parliament, but also said he would seek advice from the man who delivered ten budget surpluses in his time.

"I will be turning to Peter for advice, as I begin my role as treasurer in the Morrison government. It is a great privilege to serve in this important position, and our job is to deliver lower taxes, more jobs, and to grow the
Australian economy to create better standards of living for all Australians," Mr Frydenberg told reporters.

US President Donald Trump congratulated Mr Morrison on becoming Australian prime minister, saying there is no "greater friends" than the two countries. 

A US State Department spokesperson said on Friday "the United States has no better friend than Australia" and looked "forward to working with the new prime minister and his cabinet".

The US also wished former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull the best.

"We enjoyed a very close and positive relationship with former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, and we are confident that close working relationship under Prime Minister Morrison will continue," the spokesperson said.

New prime minister Scott Morrison says not to expect a general election until next year. (AAP)
Source: AAP

Mr Frydenberg, Mr Morrison and Nationals leader Michael McCormack - whose party is entitled to five cabinet posts - will discuss the line-up ahead of an expected swearing-in early next week.

Mr Dutton, who resigned as home affairs minister this week, will be offered a return to the ministry as will Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

But it is expected Ms Bishop, the former deputy leader, will go to the backbench and retire at the next election after 20 years in parliament.

Mr Morrison has made the drought a priority, with health care, small business and electricity prices also on his list.

The Liberal Party faces weeks of rebuilding after the infighting which has resulted in the toppling of Malcolm Turnbull and elevation of Scott Morrison as prime minister.

Mr Morrison may be in for an early electoral test with Mr Turnbull's retirement expected to trigger a by-election in the Sydney seat of Wentworth.

However he said he relished the chance to campaign on his new theme of being "on your side", referring to voters disgruntled over the recent political circus.

He told reporters not to expect a general election until it is due in the first half of 2019.

Mr Morrison said he would head a "new generation of Liberal leadership".

Published 25 August 2018 at 3:36am, updated 25 August 2018 at 11:01am