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.