The End of the Abbott?

by David Lewis

As I write this, a vote for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Australia is about half an hour away. A quick sketch now as I ponder how it came to this, and perhaps more analysis after the result is known.

Mr Abbott has not settled well into the job: even allowing for political differences, Mr Abbott does not communicate well. He seems to lack sensitivity. He has a reputation of flying by the seat of his pants. He makes short term decisions for short term political gain. He has not espoused policy beyond slogans.

Mr Turnbull has not impressed either. Once the Liberal candidate the left could live with, his destruction of the NBN, his seeming lack of principle, and the opinions of other senior liberals (which are not high) sees him as yesterday’s man – a Rosebery, perhaps.

Mr Abbott came to power on a negative campaign. He lucked into the leadership – the foolish Joe Hockey split the moderate vote (Mr Hockey’s own lack of competence is well documented.).

What should the ALP think? Mr Shorten was the candidate brought in to prove to the membership that the factions still wielded power – he is not well regarded at least in NSW: social media is full of people hoping Mr Abbott loses so the ALP can get a ‘real leader’…

It’s the end of Murdoch. Murdoch, who destroyed his own reputation in the UK (and subsequently everywhere) thanks to the Lewison inquiry, still sees himself as a kingmaker. A tweet last week is seen as  a coded instruction or encouragement for Mr Abbott to call a double dissolution. Mr Abbott did not, and now faces consequences. But Mr Murdoch has finally lost his influence in Australia. The Australian people are stopping listening to him. Declining sales, declining ratings and a generation who prefers a more diverse media has killed him.

About 10 minutes to go: Andrew Hastie (who spoke well, though a closer examination would show a superficial and naive view of the world) has taken the approach that he wants to win Canning – a not unreasonable approach.

Julie Bishop will either end her career or become deputy leader to her third leader. (Nelson, Turnbull, Abbott). She’s not really impressed in the role of Foreign Minister, but she has seemed to settle into it adequately. I suspect she’s learned to take the advice of her department.

Mr Abbott may well win: he is, I suspect, ringing round (or his whips and supporters are) reminding people that the instability in the ALP was what cost them the last election. Differences abound though – neither Ms Gillard nor Mr Rudd were able to hold the confidence of the press. Both were competent (all of our prime ministers were – except McMahon and Abbott – even Whitlam was able to achieve major policy victories – the fact that the Liberal and Country parties didn’t like them didn’t stop them being major. Both Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard had the respect and admiration of foreign leaders in a way Mr Abbott has never managed.

The ballot has started. The atmosphere in the room must be thick with tension. There are those who are betraying a man who has been personally good to them, but who, either for selfish or altruistic reasons (or both) have made a very hard decision. There are those who are sticking with Mr Abbott, and hoping the gamble pays off. There are those who are looking to see what advantage they can wrest… What they all have in common is that they want it to end quickly.

Mr Turnbull’s speech from earlier is being repeated. I don’t believe him. A lot will. Mr ABbott again fails to impress.

It’s a no win situation: if Mr Abbott wins, he’s destabilised, and he’s lost two senior ministers (if not more). If he loses, well, so does Hockey, Pyne, Brandis, Abetz, Brandis…

Sue Boyce is now talking – she’s against the spill. It’s really just filler. She disagrees with a lot of Mr Abbott, but ‘we will rue (knocking off a sitting Prime Minister)…’ Quite possibly that is true.

My guess is that the counting has begun – it will be counted a couple of times….