Malcolm Turnbull today took the Liberal leadership by just four votes - 45 to 41 - from Brendan Nelson, saying he knew what it was like to be short of money.
"I do not come to the position of leader of the Liberal Party from a lifetime of privilege," he said at his first press conference.
"I know what it's like to be very short of money. I know what it's like to live in rented flats.
"I know what it's like to grow up with a single parent with no support other than a devoted and loyal father.
"I know Australians are doing it tough and some Australians even in the years of greatest prosperity will always do it tough.
"We know that this is a tough world and our job as Liberals is to ensure that our society is a fair one. A society of opportunity. A society where people can, like my father and I, be able to take advantage of those opportunities, to seize those opportunities and with enterprise and energy and good luck and hard work, do well.
"We are a party of opportunity and this, my friends, is a land of opportunity."
Mr Turnbull, 53, a former merchant banker and republican campaigner, was today elected the 12th leader of the Liberal Party.
He praised Dr Nelson for leading the party through difficult and challenging times and said he was owed a debt of gratitude.
In his victory speech inside the Liberals' party room, Mr Turnbull spoke about freedom and praised new Liberal Senator Helen Kroger for mentioning it in her maiden speech in the Senate last night.
The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, called on Mr Turnbull to support the push to make Australia a republic and said he looked forward to working with the new Liberal leader.
The Nationals leader, Warren Truss, congratulated Mr Turnbull.
"I am sure Mr Turnbull has the energy, determination and skills to be an effective leader of the Liberal Party," Mr Truss said.
Today's vote overturns the ballot that followed last November's federal election loss in which Dr Nelson beat Mr Turnbull by 45 votes to 42.
Mr Turnbull had been shadow treasurer and was the environment minister in the former Howard government.
There is speculation that Andrew Robb, the former party director and foreign affairs spokesman, could be promoted to the job of shadow treasurer.
Mr Turnbull said he would consult colleagues before announcing his new frontbench.
"I know I have the suppport of the entire party room,'' he said.
He offered Dr Nelson a position, but Dr Nelson said he wanted to go to the backbench.
Mr Turnbull said his wife Lucy and son Alex could not be in Canberra because "there wasn't much notice'' but his daughter Daisy was there.
"I want to say thank you to them. All my life I have been blessed with great family, whether it was the loyalty of my father in my youth or the love and the loyalty of my wife and my children today.''
"It is the love of our families that gives us the strength to serve the nation in the way we do.'
Media Man Australia Profiles