Australian PM starts work as anger over party vote simmers


Associated Press

SYDNEY — Australia’s latest leader, Scott Morrison, spoke with President Donald Trump, organized his Cabinet and met drought-affected farmers on Saturday as the backlash continued over yet another prime minister selected by an internal party vote.

A day after replacing Malcolm Turnbull following a ballot among parliamentarians from the ruling Liberal Party, Morrison had what he called a “great” phone conversation with Trump.

“Had a great discussion with @realDonaldTrump this morning,” Morrison tweeted. “We affirmed the strength of the relationship between the US and Australia.”

Trump had earlier tweeted: “Congratulations to new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. There are no greater friends than the United States and Australia!”

During their conversation, Trump and Morrison underscored the importance of the bilateral partnership between the U.S. and Australia and pledged to continue to closely cooperate on priorities shared by the two countries, the White House said.

Morrison, who also spoke by phone to Joko Widodo, president of Australia’s neighbor Indonesia, may meet Trump in person in November at a Pacific Rim summit in Papua New Guinea. Trump is reportedly considering a visit to Australia on the same trip.

Australia’s 30th prime minister spent his first full day in office in meetings to sort out his Cabinet, with the only announcement so far being that new deputy Liberal Party leader Josh Frydenberg would take over Morrison’s role as treasurer. Speculation was mounting that incumbent Foreign Minister Julie Bishop could follow Turnbull by quitting politics, after her unsuccessful run at the leadership in Friday’s party vote, in which Morrison eventually beat Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, 45 votes to 40.

Morrison made brief public comments Saturday before meeting in Canberra, the capital, with farmers battling a severe drought that is affecting Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, in particular.