Nationals MP comes to defence of Dutton after ‘extremist’ jibe

Nationals frontbencher David Littleproud has shot down claims Peter Dutton, the frontrunner to lead a post-Scott Morrison Liberal Party, is an "extremist" who "does not fit with modern Australia at all".

Littleproud moved to defend Dutton following a blistering attack from Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan yesterday, where he questioned Dutton's intelligence and the outgoing defence minister's hawkish views on China.

"I don't think he's right," Littleproud said, calling McGowan's comments "sad" and unnecessary.

With Scott Morrison confirming he will resign as leader of the Liberals following his federal election defeat, one of the key questions being asked is who will step up to the plate to replace him.

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"This is why people hate politicians," he said.

"If you ask anyone in the Labor Party in federal politics, they would say that Peter Dutton is one of the smartest politicians there, both on a political level and an intellectual level."

Littleproud questioned the relevancy of McGowan's commentary on federal politics.

"Mark McGowan might be riding high in WA but they are sad comments," he said.

"That sort of diatribe just belongs with the states, we gave the states too much relevance and now we are paying the price for it having to listen to that."

Dutton appears likely to take the reins of the Liberal Party, following crushing federal election defeats in many seats once regarded as strongholds for Liberals.

Yesterday, McGowan delivered a withering reassessment of Dutton's credentials.

"He's an extremist and I don't think he fits with modern Australia at all," McGowan said.

"He doesn't seem to listen and he's extremely conservative. I actually don't think he's that smart.

"I don't pick up that Peter Dutton is fit to be prime minister."

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Dutton is widely expected to take leadership of the Liberal Party.

Nine's political editor Chris Uhlmann has said Dutton, as leader, will likely take the Liberals even further to the right.

"Those people who think this is now a time where the Liberal Party will move closer to a more moderate side, they have been gutted," Uhlmann said on election night.

"This has been a rout of the moderate wing of the Liberal Party."

Dutton, a former police officer, has held a number of high-profile portfolios during his steady rise, including stints as the minister for health, immigration and defence.

The 51-year-old joined the Liberal Party as a teenager.

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