Turnbull's praise pleases Key, Little pities Australia

Prime Minister John Key (Simon Wong/ 3 News)
Prime Minister John Key (Simon Wong/ 3 News)

Prime Minister John Key says he's "flattered" incoming Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull has singled him out as a good leader.

Mr Turnbull took over the Prime Ministership from Tony Abbott last night in a dramatic vote amongst the Liberal Party caucus.

He was ousted by a 54-44 vote majority, ending Mr Abbott's two-year reign in the top job.

Talking to media last night, Mr Turnbull praised New Zealand and Mr Key's leadership noting its economic reforms.

"John Key has been able to achieve very significant economic reforms in New Zealand by doing just that, by taking them on and explaining complex issues and then making the case for them."

This morning, Mr Key spoke to Mr Turnbull where he reiterated his comments and said he was grateful for the recognition.

"I think he genuinely thinks New Zealand has had stable leadership over a period of time and delivered good economic results and that is flattering. But equally, we understand this has been a very tumultuous time in Australia. What he'll be looking to do is show that economic leadership and stability," he says.

Mr Key also sent his commiserations to Mr Abbott via text last night.

With Mr Turnbull's appointment as Prime Minister, he becomes Australia's fifth Prime Minister in five years.

Mr Key says that kind of volatility in Pacific leadership has only been seen in Vanuatu.

"Politics is a brutal business as we all understand."

He believed Australia will be looking for a period of stability.

The main difference between Mr Abbott and his successor is that Mr Turnbull was more moderate and "in the centre of the Liberal Party" with more progressive views on issues such as gay marriage which Mr Abbott was opposed to.

However, Labour leader Andrew Little said he pitied Australia if Mr Turnbull is trying to emulate Mr Key.

"We've got a Prime Minister who has presided over seven deficits, a growing public debt and an economy that doesn't have much to show for a seven years of a National government. If that is Malcolm Turnbull's ambitions then I pity Australia," he says.

The instability in the leadership could be a more "deep-seated problem" with the system.

"I don't know what it is, apart perhaps from something in Canberra's water, but it is an unusual turn of events for such a large developed country like Australia to have such a rapid change in Prime Ministers."

Under the vote last night, Australia's deputy leader Julie Bishop retained her position by vote of 70-30.

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