The Conservative Liberal Party voted in a secret ballot late yesterday to oust Tony Abbott as its leader in favour of Turnbull, a multi-millionaire former tech entrepreneur who is popular with the electorate.

"I'm filled with optimism and we will be setting out in the weeks ahead ... more of those foundations that will ensure our prosperity in the years ahead," Turnbull told reporters as he headed to Parliament today before being sworn in.

Abbott was deposed barely two years into his three-year term after months of opinion polls that showed his popularity near rock bottom as Australia's USD 1.5 trillion economy struggles to cope with the end of a once-in-a-century mining boom. Turnbull had previously been unpalatable to his party's right wing because of his progressive views on climate change, same-sex marriage and making Australia a republic.

In his first address to Parliament as leader, Turnbull stuck to the ruling coalition's timetable set under Abbott and said Australians would vote on same-sex marriage after elections due next year. Abbott's dismal performance and over-reliance on slogans to sell his major policies, including a hardline approach to refugees, eventually wore down internal opposition to Turnbull.

Abbott pledged to make the leadership transition as smooth as possible but, in his last address as leader today, also expressed concern that "A revolving door Prime Ministership can't be good for our country". Australia has been convulsed by backroom machinations and party coups in recent years that have shaken public and business confidence in government.

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