Update 2pm 6/2/14: It’s on. Western Australian MP Luke Simpkins has announced he will move a spill motion against the Prime Minister on Tuesday. Huge day for Aussie politics.
The media hounds smell blood in Canberra, as the Liberals get ready to rumble in the party room jungle.
Increasingly isolated from his party, the media and the Australian public after knighting the already quite well-decorated Prince Phillip on Australia Day, the odds of PM Tony Abbott receiving the ‘Rudd and Gillard treatment’ are getting stronger by the day.
Yesterday, senior ministers were forced to defend themselves against accusations that they were conspiring to take Tony down, with most likely leadership candidates Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop taking to Twitter to prove that they were, in fact, simply busy doing their jobs.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) February 5, 2015
— Julie Bishop (@JulieBishopMP) February 5, 2015
Still, when two ministers from the same party are compelled to publicly deny that they’ve been speaking to each other, chances are the questions are hitting a little too close to home.
Sure enough, today we woke to the news, reported by Fairfax Media, that Turnbull had confronted the Prime Minister in a secret meeting to discuss the future direction of the government. According to the report, Turnbull left the meeting ‘underwhelmed’.
Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that Minister for Education Christopher Pyne, being interviewed on Channel Nine’s Today show, was unable to rule out a leadership spill when ministers return to parliament next week, saying only that he ‘hoped’ the PM still had the numbers in the party room to keep his job.
Safe to say, when senior cabinet ministers are openly doubting their PM’s leadership on national television, then things are getting pretty serious.
So what does this all mean?
Well, if there is a leadership spill and Tony Abbott does lose his job next week, it’s safe to say that many of the key issues and reforms that we’ve been arguing about for the last year will be off the table, or at the very least sent way, way back to the drawing board.
This includes the proposed changes to education and health, as well as ‘Captain’s Call’ policies relating to childcare and knighthoods.
There’s also a good chance that year’s budget will have a very different look and feel to Treasurer Joe Hockey’s first attempt last year, which contained a raft of unpopular measures designed to bring the budget back to surplus as quickly as possible. If we do have a new leader next week, it’s far more likely their focus will be on winning the next election, rather than pushing through tough reforms.
One thing’s for sure, Tony Abbott has dusted off his kevlar speedos and will be sleeping with one eye open for the next few days. If he sleeps at all.
Image: US Embassy, Flickr