Incoming Treasurer Josh Frydenberg emerged a winner from the implosion of Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership, riding a conservative assault of the energy policy he championed to become deputy Liberal leader.
The former energy and environment minister was overwhelmingly elected to replace Julie Bishop as deputy in the dramatic party room meeting, becoming the most senior Victorian Liberal since Peter Costello.
The 47-year-old beat Health Minister Greg Hunt and Trade Minister Steve Ciobo for the number two position.
Mr Morrison said the new leadership team represented continuity for the party, while giving the government much-needed generational change.
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Representing the inner-Melbourne seat of Kooyong – previously held by Liberal Party founder Sir Robert Menzies and former opposition leader Andrew Peacock – Mr Frydenberg was first elected to Parliament in 2010 and was immediately described by outgoing leader Malcolm Turnbull as “cabinet potential”.
A graduate of economics and law at Monash University, Oxford and Harvard, he clerked at leading law firm Mallesons before becoming a senior adviser to Liberal foreign minister Alexander Downer and prime minister John Howard.
After leaving government in 2005, he spent five years as a director at Deutsche Bank.
It was his March 2006 preselection challenge against long-time Kooyong MP Petro Georgiou that brought Mr Frydenberg to public consciousness, a bid lost despite an endorsement from Mr Costello, then deputy leader, and his close links to party veteran Michael Kroger.
Long touted as a future prime minister, the ambitious MP served as a parliamentary secretary under Tony Abbott and assistant treasurer to Joe Hockey, before being promoted to become minister for resources, energy and northern Australia.
On Friday and after a week of infighting, he pledged to return the focus of government to the Australian people.
“I have been privileged to work with people from all walks of life, from Devonport to Townsville, from Perth to Parramatta, and what they expect from their government is to hear their concerns and to deliver for them jobs, a reduced cost of living, and economic and national security.
“So my message to the Australian people today is that we are here to serve you. And that every waking hour of the Morrison government will be spent delivering for the people of Australia.”
The son of a surgeon and an academic, Mr Frydenberg was the first Jewish Liberal elected to the House of Representatives.
He briefly faced concerns about dual citizenship last year, passionately fighting claims he was implicated in the section 44 crisis because his mother Erica was born in Budapest in 1943.
She was interned in the city’s ghetto before fleeing the Holocaust, living in a displaced persons’ camp and gaining entry to Australia in 1950, becoming a citizen seven years later.
Victorian Liberals describe Mr Frydenberg as one of the few senior members able to help bridge a growing schism in the party, with expectations he will be well placed to become the next Coalition opposition leader.
Mr Frydenberg maintained a close friendship with former governor-general Zelman Cowen until his death in 2011 and was best man for Seven Group chief executive Ryan Stokes.
He and Mr Hunt have been friends for more than two decades and are godfathers to each other’s children.
A one-time tennis ace, he has boasted of beating Mark Philippoussis in a doubles match.
Despite the policy breakdown over pressure from Coalition MPs who oppose renewable energy and want market intervention in favour of coal, Mr Frydenberg joined the incoming prime minister in distancing himself from Mr Turnbull’s demise.
The pair said they had not challenged their former leader, joining the leadership race after Mr Turnbull withdrew and after Ms Bishop was disqualified.
Mr Frydenberg will work alongside new Secretary of the Department of Treasury Phil Gaetjens, whose appointment angered Labor because of his former role as Mr Morrison’s chief of staff.
Labor MP Ed Husic said his long-time friendship with Mr Frydenberg was often tested in question time when he was environment minister.
“I don’t know it survives with him being Treasurer,” he said.
“I’m delighted for Josh and his family that he’s become deputy leader. They’ll be exceedingly proud of him, deservedly so.
“Having said that, and this is nothing personal, but I’m looking forward to my other very good friend, the shadow treasurer, ultimately replacing Josh.”