It’s on, and it will happen most likely between now and the end of September; perhaps even this week. The causes are there for all to see. You can’t fix stupid and the sight of the troika of ministers standing underneath a microphone boom, two of them revealing their true thoughts about climate change, was enough for their opposing forces to say, ‘we’ve had enough.’
The big tip at the moment is that Malcolm Turnbull will announce a challenge and Julie Bishop will also offer herself to the party room as an alternative for the hard right. The unknown factor is Scott Morrison who is seen to be the preference of the hard right wing faction but he has, so far, stood solidly behind Tony Abbott.
We can be reasonably confident that in a three horse race, Tony Abbott would be the first candidate to be eliminated.
The story the Sydney Daily Telegraph ran last week suggesting Abbott was planning to axe up to six ministers in a pre-Christmas reshuffle, is believed by many journalists to have been the catalyst; something they believe came from the Prime Minister’s Office.
When they coupled that with the troika buffoonery, it sent government MPs reaching for the Prozac. On Sunday, Ninenews’ Laurie Oakes suggested Abbott may call a double dissolution the week following the Canning by-election to head off a spill motion. That still remains a possibility. Abbott will not go quietly.
The Daily Telegraph, reported today (Monday),that Environment Minister Greg Hunt sought assurances from Abbott that Parliamentary Secretary, Bob Baldwin was safe. The Telegraph, was described by Anthony Albanese on Morning television recently as an annex to the Prime Minister’s Office, i.e. they get the leaks that the Prime Minister’s Office wants to leak. So if the reshuffle plan was a leak from the PMO then it once again demonstrates how dysfunctional that office is.
It’s all so familiar this leadership speculation, but the main difference this time compared with the failed February spill motion is that Malcolm Turnbull refuses to rule out a leadership challenge. That minor detail cranks up the speculation a gear or two. In February, Turnbull made it clear he was in no way involved and would not support such a move.
We will wait this week with breathless anticipation of any word or move or indeed any action by any member of the factional camps ahead of the Canning vote that will give us a hint of what is to come.
Should Canning record a swing of around 10% as expected, win or lose, the tension will be palpable, the knives will be sharpened, the phones will go into meltdown, but best of all, the pain, embarrassment and dysfunction the nation has suffered over the past two years will finally come to an end.