News, Culture & Society

Liberal leadership: Wives behind Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton

In his maiden speech to Parliament, Peter Dutton spoke about his time in the police force and the ‘sickening behaviour’ of criminals who ‘barely justify their existence’.

Scott Morrison, who will likely run against the former Home Affairs Minister to take over the from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, was far more sentimental.

‘To my wife, Jenny… words are not enough. She has loved and supported me in all things and made countless sacrifices, consistent with her generous, selfless and caring nature,’ said Mr Morrison, the son of a policeman. 

But for Julie Bishop, the latest Liberal MP to throw her hat in the ring for the top job, things have changed vastly from the time she first entered parliament in 1998.

Since 2014 she has been rarely pictured without property tycoon partner David Panton by her side – and if her late run for the top job proves to be successful, he is set to be just the second ‘first bloke’ in Australian history.

The next PM and ‘first bloke’? Julie Bishop (left) is reportedly ready to enter the race to become the leader of the Liberal Party. She has been dating property tycoon David Panton (right) since 2014

Then Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton and wife Kirilly Dutton arrive at the National Press Club in Canberra earlier this year

Then Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton and wife Kirilly Dutton arrive at the National Press Club in Canberra earlier this year

Jenny and Scott Morrison met at a Sydney church when they were just 12 years old, before marrying at the age of 21

Jenny and Scott Morrison met at a Sydney church when they were just 12 years old, before marrying at the age of 21

Ms Bishop, the member for Curtin, married Neil Gillon in 1983 but their marriage fell apart just five years later.

It was another ten years before she entered federal parliament, stating in her first speech to the house of representatives that she regarded public office as ‘one of the highest callings’ in the land.

Her relationship with wealthy property developer Panton has been controversial at times, including reports she claimed $32,000 in family travel allowance for him to accompany her on a trip to New York.

The couple are understood to be deeply committed.

So too are Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny, with the devout Christians having been together since high school.

The pair first met at a Sydney church when they were just 12, before marrying at the age of 21.

But it would be nearly two decades before they conceived their first child. Mr Morrison described the birth as a God-given ‘miracle’ after multiple IVF treatments. 

‘After 14 years of bitter disappointments, God remembered [Jenny’s] faithfulness and blessed us with our miracle child, Abbey Rose,’ Mr Morrison said.

The couple now share two children. 

Jenny was raised in the working class St George area in Sydney’s south, while Mr Morrison grew up in Bronte in the city’s ritzy eastern suburbs. 

Ms Bishop came under fire earlier this year after it was revealed she had claimed $32,000 in family travel allowance following a trip to New York with Mr Panton

Ms Bishop came under fire earlier this year after it was revealed she had claimed $32,000 in family travel allowance following a trip to New York with Mr Panton

 'After 14 years of bitter disappointments, God remembered [Jenny's] faithfulness and blessed us with our miracle child, Abbey Rose,' Mr Morrison said after the birth of their first child

 ‘After 14 years of bitter disappointments, God remembered [Jenny’s] faithfulness and blessed us with our miracle child, Abbey Rose,’ Mr Morrison said after the birth of their first child

In his maiden speech in Parliament, Scott Morrison (pictured with wife and two children) spoke of the significant influences on my life: 'My family and my faith'

In his maiden speech in Parliament, Scott Morrison (pictured with wife and two children) spoke of the significant influences on my life: ‘My family and my faith’

As a child, Jenny would reportedly mock Scott about coming from the exclusive side of town.

The pair are evangelical Christians who worship at a Hillsong-style Pentecostal church in Sydney’s south. 

Mr Morrison attended the prestigious Sydney Boys High School and embarked on a short-lived career as a child actor. 

He graduated from university and worked in tourism, playing roles in the ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ and Australia’s ‘where the bloody hell are you?’ campaigns before winning preselection in the seat of Cook in Sydney’s south in 2007. 

As a child, Jenny would mock Scott about coming from the exclusive side of town. The Morrisons are pictured welcoming a new dog to the family

As a child, Jenny would mock Scott about coming from the exclusive side of town. The Morrisons are pictured welcoming a new dog to the family

Jenny was raised in the working class St George area in Sydney's south, while Mr Morrison grew up in Bronte in the city's ritzy eastern suburbs. The pair are pictured with their children

Jenny was raised in the working class St George area in Sydney’s south, while Mr Morrison grew up in Bronte in the city’s ritzy eastern suburbs. The pair are pictured with their children

POTENTIAL PRIME MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON REVEALS HIS RELIGIOUS DEVOTION IN MAIDEN SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT  

Growing up in a Christian home, I made a commitment to my faith at an early age and have been greatly assisted by the pastoral work of many dedicated church leaders, in particular the Reverend Ray Green and pastors Brian Houston and Leigh Coleman. 

My personal faith in Jesus Christ is not a political agenda. As Lincoln said, our task is not to claim whether God is on our side but to pray earnestly that we are on His. 

For me, faith is personal, but the implications are social- as personal and social responsibility are at the heart of the Christian message. 

In recent times it has become fashionable to negatively stereotype those who profess their Christian faith in public life as ‘extreme’ and to suggest that such faith has no place in the political debate of this country. 

Mr Morrison spoke of his deep Christian beliefs in his maiden speech in Parliament 

Mr Morrison spoke of his deep Christian beliefs in his maiden speech in Parliament 

This presents a significant challenge for those of us, like my colleague, who seek to follow the example of William Wilberforce or Desmond Tutu, to name just two. 

These leaders stood for the immutable truths and principles of the Christian faith. 

They transformed their nations and, indeed, the world in the process. More importantly, by following the convictions of their faith, they established and reinforced the principles of our liberal democracy upon which our own nation is built.

Australia is not a secular country – it is a free country. This is a nation where you have the freedom to follow any belief system you choose. 

Secularism is just one. It has no greater claim than any other on our society. As US Senator Joe Lieberman said, the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not from religion. I believe the same is true in this country.

Mr and Mrs Dutton live in Brisbane's north-west with the couple's two young sons, Harry, 14, and Tom, 12 - as well as Mr Dutton's 16-year-old daughter Rebecca from a previous relationship

Mr and Mrs Dutton live in Brisbane’s north-west with the couple’s two young sons, Harry, 14, and Tom, 12 – as well as Mr Dutton’s 16-year-old daughter Rebecca from a previous relationship

Further north, Peter Dutton met his future wife Kirilly when she was working in Brisbane as a personal assistant to recruitment magnate ­Sarina Russo.

Working 14-hour days, Kirilly had little time to pursue the relationship – and it took time to blossom.

The pair were first introduced by one of Kirilly’s friends, who was in a relationship with Ross Vasta, the current Liberal Member for Bonner.

Months later, Kirilly was finally wooed by what she says is Mr Dutton’s mystery and sense of humour. The pair married in 2003. 

‘He’s more romantic than me. He buys the gift baskets and the flowers. There’s a ­perception out there that he’s fairly serious and hard-line. But he loves a joke,’ Kirilly told The Courier Mail this week. 

‘He’s got a great sense of humour. When he and his mother get together, they can have tears running down their faces. It can take him about 20 minutes to tell a story because he’s laughing so much.’ 

Mr and Mrs Dutton live on a two-hectare property in Camp Mountain in Brisbane’s north-west with the couple’s two young sons, Harry, 14, and Tom, 12 – as well as Mr Dutton’s 16-year-old daughter Rebecca from a previous relationship. 

Peter Dutton (pictured with his children Harry, 14, Tom, 12 and Rebecca, 16) has come a long way from his humble beginnings on Brisbane's outskirts 

Peter Dutton (pictured with his children Harry, 14, Tom, 12 and Rebecca, 16) has come a long way from his humble beginnings on Brisbane’s outskirts 

Kirilly worked as a part-time babysitter as a young woman and would later create and expand lucrative childcare businesses

Kirilly worked as a part-time babysitter as a young woman and would later create and expand lucrative childcare businesses

Kirilly worked as a part-time babysitter as a young woman and would later create and expand lucrative childcare businesses. 

Her friends on social media tell her she looks the same today as she did in high school: ‘When do you think you might start getting wrinkles? You look the same as you did in year 12.’ 

Mrs Dutton now operates and owns the Camelia Avenue Childcare Centre in Everton Hills, as well as Bald Hills Childcare Centre, both in Brisbane’s north-west.

Her husband has denied he could be disqualified from Parliament for breaching constitutional law due to his business interests in the childcare centres.

The prime minister said if the solicitor-general’s advice cleared Mr Dutton on Friday morning, there could be a partyroom meeting and a second spill motion.

Former pharmacist Mr Panton has traveled the world with Ms Bishop since they first began dating and is her annual partner to the Mid-Winter Ball at Parliament House.

Rumours first began swirling on Thursday afternoon that Ms Bishop was set to enter the race to become Liberal leader

Rumours first began swirling on Thursday afternoon that Ms Bishop was set to enter the race to become Liberal leader

In 2015, Mr Panton joined Ms Bishop on the floor of the UN General Assembly in New York - sparking questions from Labor about just why he was there

In 2015, Mr Panton joined Ms Bishop on the floor of the UN General Assembly in New York – sparking questions from Labor about just why he was there

In 2015, he joined Ms Bishop on the floor of the UN General Assembly in New York – sparking questions from Labor about just why he was there.

They are often seen at polo and racing events and spent the last New Year’s Eve together under fireworks, posing together with happy selfies.

And they spent the last New Year’s Eve together under Australian fireworks, posing for a happy series of selfies.

The couple have also enjoyed mixing with big names in Australia – such as Channel Nine star Karl Stefanovic – and internationally, including meeting US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania. 

Mr Panton has three children from his previous marriage. 

LIBERAL PARTY LOCKED IN HIGH-STAKES LEADERSHIP SHOWDOWN 

Malcolm Turnbull is still prime minister for now, but Peter Dutton,  Scott Morrison and Julie Bishop are preparing to fight it out if a Liberal leadership challenge is called.

Mr Turnbull set a midday on Friday deadline for the second spill motion of the week, but he’s forcing Liberals who want him gone to reveal themselves.

On Thursday he demanded Mr Dutton get at least 43 signatures to force a leadership spill – and promised to quit as prime minister if it goes ahead.

That would open the door for Mr Dutton, Mr Morrison and Ms Bishop to battle it out.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (left) and Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison arrive for a vote to adjourn the House of Representatives at Parliament House

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (left) and Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison arrive for a vote to adjourn the House of Representatives at Parliament House

But Mr Turnbull has warned Mr Dutton he better be eligible to sit in parliament after questions were raised about his financial interests in childcare centres.

‘Australians will be rightly appalled by what they’re witnessing in their nation’s parliament today and in the course of this week,’ Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

‘The reality is that a minority in the party room, supported by others outside the parliament, have sought to bully, intimidate others into making this change of leadership that they’re seeking.’

The prime minister has lost 13 ministers, including loyalist Mathias Cormann, after they told him the numbers had moved behind Mr Dutton.

Mr Turnbull set a midday on Friday deadline for the second spill motion of the week

Mr Turnbull set a midday on Friday deadline for the second spill motion of the week

‘I can’t ignore the fact that a majority of colleagues in the Liberal Party party room are of the view that there should be a change,’ Senator Cormann told reporters, adding it came with a ‘heavy heart’.

Mr Turnbull expects the solicitor-general to provide MPs with advice on whether Mr Dutton is eligible to sit in parliament before Friday’s meeting.

The former home affairs minister has his own legal advice that his interest in childcare centres – which receive funding from the federal government – does not breach section 44 of the constitution.

The section bans from parliament anyone who has ‘any direct or indirect pecuniary interest with the public service of the commonwealth’.

‘This is a very, very significant point,’ Mr Turnbull said, having battled through the MP citizenship saga.

Former Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton addresses the media to announce he has the numbers to challenge Mr Turnbull

Former Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton addresses the media to announce he has the numbers to challenge Mr Turnbull

‘I cannot underline too much how important it is that anyone who seeks to be prime minister of Australia is eligible to be a member of parliament.’

Mr Turnbull said the public would be ‘crying out for an election’ once the dust settled.

He said a ‘form of madness’ had taken over those agitating for a leadership change.

Mr Dutton is also facing a Senate inquiry over his decision to give visas to two au pairs in 2015 after Labor referred the matter to a committee on Thursday.

The inquiry will look into allegations concerning the inappropriate exercise of ministerial powers and report by September 11.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk