A turbulent term as Prime Minster may end sooner rather than later for Tony Abbott, with persistently increasing rumblings that he may face a leadership spill, led by Malcolm Turnbull.
It was previously expected that a poor showing in this weekend’s Canning by-election would seal the Prime Minister’s fate, but it seems that a spill is inevitable regardless of the result. Each of the major news outlets is predicting that Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull will make his move soon, perhaps even as early as this week.
The ABC has spoken to eight ministers, six of whom believe that Mr Abbott will be challenged by the end of the year, regardless of the result in Canning. One even gave the ominous prediction, “And this time I think they will get him”.
Fairfax, whose Ipsos poll has pointed to a swing of 10 points to Labor in Canning, is running with the story that Malcolm Turnbull’s backers are trying to persuade him to make a move on the leadership this week. While the timing may seem strange, some ministers are worried that, if the result delivers the predicted swing, then the Prime Minister may call an early election, an outcome that is considered political suicide, but as one MP is quoted as saying, “he’s crazy enough to do it”.
Even News Limited is predicting a bumpy ride for the Prime Minister, with its Galaxy Poll also predicting a 10-point swing in Canning. It has chosen to run with the headline that Malcolm Turnbull refuses to rule out a leadership challenge. While one frontbencher explained this as Mr Turnbull simply refusing to give the matter of a leadership spill any oxygen and another saying it was simply “wild rumours”, a third frontbencher said, “But who knows with Malcolm, anything could happen”.
Regardless of whether a challenge is forthcoming this week, the Prime Minister looks likely to continue to face scrutiny and dwindling support from within his own ranks. One cabinet minister has apparently already pointed out that his “six months’ is up. “He said: ‘Give me six months.’ Well, he has had six months and things have gone from bad to worse. He should just resign.”
While another lamented to the ABC that “everybody is quite jumpy and despondent”.
“That’s driven by the national polls and the fact that every poll on Canning has 10 per cent-type swings,” he said.
“And the fact that so much of the self-harm comes from the Prime Minister’s office, that so much of it is self-inflicted.”
Read more at ABC.net.au
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If everyone is saying it, does that make it true? The general swell of opinion over the weekend that Mr Abbott’s days as Prime Minister are numbered may just be enough to force action within the Liberal Party. By anyone’s standards, Mr Abbott has been a remarkably resilient Prime Minister, so it’s difficult to see him bowing to pressure from within his own party to stand aside, but would that be a better option for all rather than face the second, in seven months, leadership spill?
If what is said is to be believed, then Malcolm Turnbull has simply been biding his time to make a move on the leadership of the Liberal Party and by default, the prime ministership. And one can only assume if Malcolm is eyeing up the top job, then there will be others only too happy to throw their hats in the ring once the challenge has been issued. And while this may make for interesting viewing for the Labor Party and other political ghouls, as a nation, it’s difficult to stand by and simply accept the constant political upheaval that results in a lack of action on much needed policy.
Regardless of what happens with the Liberal leadership over the next couple of months, we will soon be facing our next federal election and no matter what way you look at it, the last term could hardly be described as a success. The current government is the least effective for 44 years when it comes to passing meaningful legislation. And while it has managed to stop the boats and repeal the carbon tax, measures which have little effect on people’s everyday lives, it has made a considerable number of backflips on what it touted as its key policy items, such as the Medicare co-payment, Age Pension cuts, deregulation of higher education and, of course, Mr Abbott’s signature paid parental leave.
When all is said and done, it’s simply time to stop faffing around. Australia deserves a Prime Minster and a government that will work for it, and if Tony Abbott isn’t up to the job, it’s time to find the man, or woman, who is. And fast!
Should Tony Abbott stand aside as Prime Minister? Do you believe he is still the right man for the job? Would Malcolm Turnbull unite the party? Or do you think there is someone more suitable?