• Ken Wyatt says he is saddened and disappointed by his party. (AAP)Source: AAP
The Liberal party’s only Indigenous member Ken Wyatt says he’s disappointed with his party’s leadership antics while he pleads for integrity.
24 Aug 2018 - 10:01 AM  UPDATED 24 Aug 2018 - 10:22 AM

In the calm of Ken Wyatt’s office, a portrait of the country’s first Indigenous parliamentarian Neville Bonner hangs proudly.

“He’s looking over us,” Minister Wyatt told NITV News.  

In the middle of his party’s leadership turmoil, Minister Wyatt exudes remarkable composure. He’s seen this before.

“[But] to have it happen again was something I didn’t expect nor endorse because we made a decision on Tuesday in the party room, but obviously there are individuals who are not happy and who will continue to work to have a different outcome.”

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“I’ve experienced this through two other circumstances,” he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he would step aside and not contest a second challenge.

The prime minister says holding the midday ballot is conditional on him being presented with a petition of 43 signatures.

“When the party room meeting is called, I will invite a spill motion to be moved,” Mr Turnbull said.

“If the motion is carried, I will treat that as a vote of no confidence and I will not stand as a candidate in the ballot.

Mr Turnbull also said he wanted to see the solicitor-general's advice on Peter Dutton's eligibility before he calls the party room meeting. 

The government's top lawyer, Steven Donaghue, declared Mr Dutton is likely eligible to sit in the parliament, but said it was "not possible to reach a definitive conclusion" without more detailed facts about Mr Dutton's interest in the childcare centres. 

The midday party room meeting is expected to decide on two candidates who’ve received the highest number of votes, and then a further meeting will decide who will be leader.  

That would mean that by the end of Friday, Australia would have a new prime minister.

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Mr Wyatt is backing Scott Morrison.

“I do like Scott Morrison’s approach to a range of social issues and challenges that we face as a nation,” he said.

“But I will keep my options open, but my leaning is towards Scott.”

Though for Mr Dutton, he holds a deep disappointment.

Mr Dutton infamously boycotted the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008. He was among a handful of MPs who refused to attend, although he’s reportedly since regretted that decision.

“The apology was an important part of our healing process,” Minister Wyatt said.  

“I noticed a number of colleagues hadn’t attended the chamber that day and I found that disappointing.”  

But Mr Wyatt says time has moved on and no matter whom his new leader is, he will do his best to continue to serve his seat and electorate.  

“When you’re in a party, you serve the captain of the team,” he said.

“I may not like the captain or I may have differences in view to the captain but when you put your hand up to come into parliament you put your hand up to come into a team and in my case it’s with the coalition or with the Liberal party.

"So I will serve the people of Hasluck and the party as I gave commitment.”  

He says there is no justification of Mr Dutton’s actions shunning one of the most important moments for Indigenous Australians.

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“But I’ve seen people change and move,” he said.

“I’ll give credence to the fact that people do change and to our people I would say let’s look at what transpires, let’s look at who any leader appoints as the Minister for Indigenous Affairs and then consider how we react and work with them.

"If we make pre-judgements of people who are going into leadership roles than it means to some extent we’ve closed our minds as well.

“I would rather see us have an open mind and work to influence.”

His loyalty is infallible, but his disappointment in his party is hard to ignore.

“I always feel a sense of disappointment when there is upheaval and disruption,” he said.

“Because I really believe our integrity is important and you give a commitment like that then your integrity must prevail.

“We saw the issue with Fraser Anning’s comments, we saw both sides rose to the occasion but we’ve got to that consistently across a number of fronts.

“Are we going to continue to have this tumultuous reaction? Or are people going to step up and accept the decision by the majority and allow the stability of government to prevail because this nation at the moment needs strong leadership.”

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The Member for Hasluck has received his fair share of outrage from his constituents.

“There is a sense of why don’t you just get on with your job instead of focusing on each other because we elected you to do a job for our seat, our state and our nation,” he said.  

“By becoming distracted with leadership challenges means you are not focusing on the very people that we are here to represent – it saddens me that we’ve reached this point.”

But he remains optimistic.

“We’ve been around for 65,000 years, in different parts of this nation, we’ve never given up.”