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The stage is set for a Turnbull challenge

Malcolm Turnbull will only get one likely chance to be Prime Minister, and that chance could be offered to him within days.

Both Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten have laid down his challenge.

The trigger will be Warren Entsch’s cross-party bill to legalise same-sex marriage, on which Tony Abbott has warned that Coalition front benchers who supported this bill would be sacked, should it came to a vote.

Turnbull supports same-sex marriage.

Shorten knows this, and has urged all Coalition MPs in favour of same-sex marriage to “stick to your guns”:

“We say to the Liberals like Malcolm Turnbull, stick to your guns. Stick to your guns Malcolm, stick to your guns Christopher (Pyne), Josh (Frydenberg) and George (Brandis)”.

If Turnbull has both the guts and the desire to challenge Tony Abbott he will indeed stick to his guns. I’m assuming, of course, that he does have the guts and does want to be Prime Minister.

We’ll find out.

If Turnbull votes for the bill and is sacked from the front bench then he is in the best place to launch a challenge for the leadership: the back bench.

If he doesn’t cross the floor and the cosy Liberal status quo is unruffled then he would be obviously happy to go to the election with his party facing a heavy defeat. Or he could also wait for Tony Abbott to eventually implode, but when might that be?

And let’s not forget Christopher Pyne. Knowing that he could be facing political oblivion at the next election, might he be the one who stands up to Abbott and goes on to launch a challenge? It might be his only chance at saving his political career.

Politics is about to get even more interesting.



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  1. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Certainly, they are interesting times we are living in.

  2. Harquebus

    I don’t give a shit one way or another about SSM nor who leads who. All I want is for it to be over with so that we can move on.
    There are far more important matters that should be concerning us.

  3. David Stephens

    Think its more likely Turnbull will say stuff ’em, vote for Entsch, resign from parliament and go off and make a squillion doing something else. Then ScoMo and Bishop will come to Tony and ask him nicely to go to London as High Comm or US as ambassador. Tony will go, citing health issues. Wishing will make it so.

  4. Chris Goringe

    Surely the coalition will ensure that the bill never gets to the floor of the house, to avoid this scenario

  5. kerri

    I still think those in the LNP who believe in SSM should cross the floor and vote in favour?
    I mean what is Abbott going to do with a mass (ok maybe a few) revolt? He can relegate front benchers to the back bench. Big deal they are going to lose at the next election with Abbott at the helm anyway and maybe their electorates will respect them more and they may keep their seats! Back benchers are already in a pretty weak position. If he forces them to leave the party, they become Independants and can vote against him anytime and again their electorate will respect them more for standing up to the ideological and anachronistic bully and they may keep their seat. The status quo is lose lose for the LNP so whatever they do, it can’t get much worse!
    Oh to be a whip?

  6. Matters Not

    and that chance could be offered to him within days

    If he’s waiting for the chance to be offered, then he is making a big mistake. For him to win the prize, he must make it happen just like Keating did with Hawke. Perhaps it might be necessary to have a stint on the ‘backbench’ and then challenge after the Canning by-election.

    Only Turnbull can work out the options and then have the ‘ticker’ to have a go.

    As an aside. One thing that annoys many people is when Abbott keeps repeating the same message again and again and then again. Harquebus, you ought to take note.

  7. Kaye Lee

    16 out of 30 frontbenchers supported a free vote

  8. Diane

    Oh please god no, not Pyne. I can’t decide if he is a psycho or just suffering from some syndrome but the thought of seeing or hearing any more of him is almost as sickening as seeing and hearing Abbott!

  9. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    As much as Same Sex Marriage is an important social issue for people whose lives are affected, and I don’t dispute how hurtful it must be to be denied the right to self-expressionism and the legal rights other people have, there are other issues that never seem to draw the same intense and impassioned responses from people in positions of power and in various quarters of the community.

    I’m with Harquebus. (Shock, horror Harquebus!) I suspect SSM often is a first world issue that often also gets comfortable people, upset when they would not otherwise get upset about widespread issues that more severely people’s lives.

    I hope Abbott bites the dust and I hope, whoever in the LNP takes his place, bites the dust also.

    I want the attention back on how we can structurally reform our political system by providing alternative and progressive policies and procedures that give everybody a much fairer go than what we have now with the haves and have-nots because of a myopic society and ever-shrinking economic vitality.

    Nonetheless, I support Same Sex Marriage for the sakes of those whom want to be married because I don’t believe I have the right to stop them.

  10. Matters Not

    16 out of 30 frontbenchers supported a free vote

    Indeed! And it’s probably safe to say that the vast majority of those 16 would vote in favour of SSM. Also there might have been others in favour but were reluctant to declare themselves.

    When it comes to the Parliamentary vote (if it ever does) they will be taunted mercilessly by the Opposition.

    I think it’s also safe to say their names have been noted.

  11. Harquebus

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Jennifer, you are a real gem.

  12. jimhaz

    It is such a simple and obvious matter that it could easily be handled in a non-election year, while concentrating on the more difficult to grasp “other matters”. It is simple because it doesn’t cost anything and pretty much does not mean much in terms of taxation/expenditure due to an increase in rights – de-facto rulings have covered most of the rights.

    It does not have to be a one of the other scenario at all, but yes, I’d rather the far right lost arguments in the public’s minds in other areas than this.

  13. Ian D

    I don’t think Turnbull can win – unless elected unopposed. In the last election the new Liberal members were mostly of the far right. They would probably never vote for Turnbull. A more likely scenario is that the Canning by-election result is dreadful (unpopular state and federal Liberal governments) and Abbott’s own factional supporters tap him on the shoulder in which case Morrison will be free to run. The other beast supporting Abbott is the old NCC – while small in numbers they have a vocal presence – watch the comments section of the Australian of any article about conservative leadership and with broken record they’ll say things like “If you get rid of Abbott lots of Liberals simply won’t vote in the next election” or “If you elect Turnbull, I won’t be able to vote Liberal”.

  14. diannaart

    Beg to differ, Jennifer & Harquebus.

    Jennifer I acknowledge that you can sing more than a single note – unlike comrade Harquebus, however, equality is up there with progressing towards a civil world – for us to combat and mitigate our polluting of this planet – far better we have less faux differences, costing little to achieve, while we stand together against the greedy and corrupt.

  15. Lee

    “I want the attention back on how we can structurally reform our political system by providing alternative and progressive policies and procedures that give everybody a much fairer go than what we have now with the haves and have-nots because of a myopic society and ever-shrinking economic vitality.”

    There’s no doubt that many of the regular contributors here want the same. I see SSM as an important step to reforming our political system. SSM is probably one of the few issues where the majority of Australians actually want the progressive outcome. Legalisation of SSM is a step towards unity and acknowledging that we are all human, all have feelings and all have equal rights. It can be an important building block as we work towards unity on a number of progressive issues and at this point in time it’s probably the easiest one to achieve.

  16. Michael Taylor

    There was a little rumour going around in Canberra about 3-4 years ago: Pyne was counting the numbers to launch a challenge against Abbott as LOTO. Apparently he fell at the last hurdle, but yes, he was set to challenge Abbott. That’s why I wouldn’t write his ego off just yet.

  17. Michael Taylor

    I agree and disagree with Harquebus.

    I disagree that it’s not an important issue. For many, it is indeed an important issue.

    But I do agree that there are bigger issues, and I think this vote was timed to coincide (and divert attention from) the talk on Abbott’s pathetic carbon emissions targets.

  18. paul walter

    I am grateful for that ego, it might make all the difference in the end.

  19. Harquebus

    Yes Michael.
    “divert attention” and they are getting very good at it.

  20. Graeme Henchel

    Is Bronwyn Abbott’s Godwyn?
    Is his homophobic trick about to undo the prick?

  21. Bronte ALLAN

    I am not a “fan” of Malcolm Talkbull, but he has to be 100% better than Tony Abscess!

  22. Colin

    Turnbull reminds me of Peter Costello. Pretty decent (relatively speaking) in many ways, politically pragmatic but lacking the bottle to challenge for the leadership. Expecting to be handed the prize on a plate but faced with a leader who has a huge ego (not to mention hates his guts).

    Thanks for the suggestion about Pyne, I needed a laugh.

    Prediction – Scott Morrison will be PM by years end

  23. Florence nee Fedup

    They say half cabinet is in serious disagreement with Abbott. Abbott obviously doesn’t trust his back bench, as he bought in Nationals to secure his base. Not a good position for PM to be in.

    How many of these will come to the decision, they have nothing to gain from continuing to support Abbott, That defying him means they lose nothing. In fact will mean not goin down with the ship.

    Last night wouldn’t been the time to speak up.

    Biggest loser, I fear will be the PM himself.

    Abbott back when you were young, being gay was not only frowned on but illegal, sending one to jail.

    A the same time. woman in de facto relationship were seen as living in sin, their babies bastards, which society shun.

    Mr. Abbott most of us has matured and grown since then. it is a different society today.

    Divorce no longer a sin, in fact accepted by the community. Being gay is no longer a criminal offence.

    Mr Abbott, don’t you think it is time you grew up, took the blinkers off, see the world as it is today.

    People are more inclined to live and let live.

  24. Florence nee Fedup

    Wonder how many of the front benchers were nationals?

  25. Florence nee Fedup

    How far are the WA shipyards away from Randall’s seat?

  26. Florence nee Fedup

    Maybe Abbott will tell us in his memoirs why he took this unnecessary battle on at this time. The people he is turning off, are the votes he needs, If he let it go to a vote, with little dramatics, either way, it would be forgotten in a week or so. It is like he feels the needs to create further division, not necessary in the public, but his own government. Divide and rule is all he knows.

    More problems coming for state and federal government at Monis Inquest. Attempting to block evidence.

  27. Carol Taylor

    I am beginning to wonder if Abbott cares at all about the marriage equality issue at all. With plummeting popularity and the polls back to where they were pre-2015 budget and rumours of another challenge, is this issue nothing more than a way to make Turnbull either put up or shut up?

    Note how Abbott almost immediately came out with his threat, that crossing the floor would mean losing your job. Abbott is counting on Turnbull not having the balls gumption to cross the floor..and I am thinking that he’s right.

  28. totaram

    Malcolm Turdball will become PM only if he agrees to push forward the IPA agenda. In that case, he will be no change at all. In fact with his “more reasonable” persona he will be able to implement more of that agenda – to our detriment. I think it would be better for the coalition to go down at the next election, and that is more likely if TA is in charge.

  29. Roswell

    I think a lot of people fail to factor in the IPA control. If Turnbull isn’t in their inner sanctum then he’s toast.

  30. Florence nee Fedup

    I feel that Abbott cares nothing about SSM . he has used it to pull his cabinet into line. !6 of his cabinet are in open revolt. I suspect all Liberals. That why he needed the Nationals Tuesday.

    Abbott is fighting a desperate fight for survival Has challenge all to defy him. As he did with Burke today, dare him to bring on debate criticising Heydon, believing Burke would back off. He also believed he could bully his party into backing off.

    I suspect the likes of Turnbull, even Brandis have come to believe they have nothing to lose, that Abbott has to go.

    I suspect that Turnbull doesn’t want Abbott’s job at this time. Cares not who takes it on. He believes t will be a poison challenge, who ever is game, will go down with Abbott.

    The real goal for anyone who has any brains, would be taking on the job after the next election.

    Yes, Turnbull has to go to the back bench.

    Abbott sacking them means nothing at this time. In fact not going down with Abbott’s ship might be a good place to be, as far as future career options. Young Wyatt seems to understand that.

    Abbott has too many chickens coming home to roost, nowhere to go.

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