Tony Abbott’s leadership of his party remains intact with 61 Liberal MPs and senators voting against a spill motion.
The motion, requested on Friday by Western Australian Liberal backbenchers Luke Simpkins and Don Randall, was set to be put to the vote on Tuesday, however, in a move to stop conjecture and upheaval, the Prime Minister brought the vote forward to today.
At 9 am this morning, the 101 members (one is on maternity leave) of the parliamentary Liberal party met to decide if Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop would retain their positions. With no challenger coming forward, the secret ballot returned a vote of 61 against and 39 for the spill motion.
So, Mr Abbott appears to have the backing of his party. And its backing he may need in the coming months, with the Nationals Deputy Leader, Barnaby Joyce, stating that his party’s support of the Coalition is not unconditional. “What I say to my colleagues in the Liberal party is this: we didn’t want this. We gave you fair warning,” Mr Joyce said in an interview with The Northern Daily Leader.
“Do not consider that the National Party support is without question.
“If all of a sudden a different person is walking down the aisle towards us, don’t necessarily think the wedding is still on.”
Voters in New South Wales could also have a bearing on whether Mr Abbott continues in the top job in the longer term. The results of a Newspoll released today show that, due to the performance of the Abbott Government, one-in-ten Liberal-National voters are being driven away from voting for the coalition in the 28 March state election.
Even though Tony Abbott has survived a push to remove him as leader, we are faced with the very real likelihood of a future leadership spill in a serving government and, frankly, Australians deserve better.
Australia may delude itself that it plays in the same league as the big political hitters of the US, China and the UK, but really, anyone watching the debacle currently being faced by our serving government could do nothing but laugh out loud.
For the second time our elected federal government has had to deal with the distraction of being forced to vote on whether or not its leader should remain Prime Minister, rather than focus on the business of keeping the country afloat. The nonsense which was started by the Labor Party in its last two terms in government seems to have infected the corridors of Parliament and, again, we face political uncertainty at a time when it can least be afforded.
With an economy that is in real danger of going backwards, the rising number of Australians living in poverty, our health system is c reaking at the joints, the uncertainty over our education system and the growing threat of terrorism on our shores, surely it’s time to deal with these real issues rather than party in-fighting?
What happened this morning in the secret parliamentary Liberal party ballot was not in the hands of the Australian electorate, but it’s important that our political leaders remember that it’s those ordinary Australians they are there to serve, not their own egos.
Will Tony Abbott face another challenge? If a Prime Minister loses support, should it be up to those in his party to decide who is the replacement? Should the leader of an elected party be ‘untouchable’ between elections?