Last night, we witnessed the first cracks in the wall of solidarity in the Liberal Party opening up.
Western Australian liberal MP Dr Dennis Jensen broke ranks with his fellow MPs and called for a leadership spill. He made the call in an interview with Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30. Dr Jensen stated that he had received many calls from other MPs, all of whom wanted a leadership change.
When asked who he thought should lead the party, Jensen said the focus should be more a matter of what the party needed, not who. He said they needed a good communicator, someone who could articulate the government’s message, delegate effectively and then allow members to get on with doing what needed to be done.
He said that he did not believe Tony Abbott could do that and didn’t think the Prime Minister understood what the problem was. He added that while Abbott and Hockey did talk to each other about the economy and other matters, there was no substance behind the empty rhetoric they displayed in public.
Immediately following the Jensen interview, Sales introduce Peter Dutton to gain a response to Jensen’s comments. Dutton acknowledged that both Abbott and the government had made mistakes but that they should be given a fair go. He also pointed out that as matters stood, there was no challenger, that the prime minister had the full support of cabinet and he had no intention of standing down.
While that interview was being aired, ABC’s Sabra Lane was speaking by phone with Queensland Liberal Warren Entsch. After the Dutton interview she reported that Entsch also called for the matter of the leadership to be resolved and to be done so, quickly.
This is the first indication that the phones are indeed running hot and that matters may well come to a head at a party meeting in Canberra next week. Sabra Lane also pointed out that, at this stage, no one knows what the numbers are in the event of a challenge.
She also said, however, that now someone had spoken out publicly, she expected more members to come forward expressing their wishes.
So what do we, on the outside, make of this?
If there is one conclusion to draw from these breakaway comments it is that there is an orchestrated attempt to bring on a spill and flush out those who would be willing to challenge should a spill take place.
There is one thing of which we can be sure. The momentum for a spill will build in the coming days and the question of the leadership will be dealt with before the party begins to implode.
The next few days will see further pressure placed on the Prime Minister and a frenzy of activity among the possible contenders to see who has the greatest support.
Watch for a leadership spill, this time next week.’