Abbottalypse again

Things did not improve for our inept PM while I was away. Following dunderheaded “captain’s calls” on both bank deposit insurance charges and Syrian refugees, as well as more Abbottalyptic polls from Roy Morgan and Newspoll, the PM appears headed for another leadership challenge, from the AFR:

Multiple sources have told AFR Weekend that the plan is to mount another leadership challenge regardless of the outcome of next week’s by-election in the Western Australian seat of Canning.

Malcolm Turnbull is, at the moment, the likely leadership rival should there be a push, while Julie Bishop would stay as deputy. Some members of the Right, who could not previously abide Mr Turnbull, confided that they could now vote for him.

“There’s no alternative,” said a source.

Mr Abbott is believed to still have the numbers to protect him against a challenge but one MP keen on a change said “things are moving pretty fast”.

…Labor privately fears a switch to Mr Turnbull with Mr Morrison as Treasurer, believing they would be much harder to beat.

Quite right. The longer you leave an inept in charge the more inept the party appears. A fact made clear again yesterday, again from the AFR:

The Liberal Party is on track for a narrow victory at this Saturday’s byelection in the Western Australian seat of Canning but it may not be enough to save Tony Abbott’s leadership.

…A Fairfax Media/Ipsos poll shows that if the election were held on the Saturday just gone, the government would have suffered a 10-percentage point swing to hold the seat by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

Liberal MPs say a swing of that magnitude on September 19 would be enough to precipitate a leadership spill.

…Internal critics were deflated on Friday when Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was caught on camera joking with Mr Abbott about Pacific islands being swamped due to climate change. On Sunday, Mr Dutton apologised for any offence he had caused but Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said the apology should be unreserved, not just because he was caught.

Yes, they are that useless. At The Australian there is more:

Some MPs want the Commun­ications Minister to make a public declaration of support for Mr ­Abbott — with similar assurances from other cabinet ministers — to end the talk of a spill.

Coalition whip Andrew Nikolic confirmed last night that he sent a text message to Mr Turnbull at 6.12am on Friday to alert him to news reports of a potential leadership spill and ask him to make a public statement of support for the Prime Minister. Mr Nikolic said his message, unprompted by Mr Abbott, was that the government could not afford the speculation a week out from the Canning by-election and that Mr Turnbull should kill it off.

Others told The Australian last night that Mr Turnbull was reluctant to make a public statement because it would be inevitably followed­ by further questions, creat­ing a “slippery slope” of leadership speculation.

This sorry episode in Australian leadership can’t end soon enough for the nation.

Houses and Holes

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the fouding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.


  1. Get it done so we can hear what Mr Turnbulli’s policies are. Or don’t get it done for policy paralysis and a Labor/Green Government next year.

  2. A total poisoned chalice. If Turnbull gets in, the loon pond will soon forget the events that brought him in, and will undermine and agitate for new leadership. They HATE Turnbull with the passion of a thousand burning suns. It doesn’t matter who is leader; they will either be of the loon pond, or handicapped by it.

    The Liberal party is done. Stick a fork in it. It, and the US Republican party, are both dying for the same reasons. Those are:
    1. Refusal to compromise.
    2. The pursuit of ideological ‘purity’ above all in candidates.
    3. A steadfast focus on issues that divide (kicking the shit out of refugees/mexicans, appointing wind commissioners, constant injection of religion into government) instead of on issues that unite (repairing competitiveness, pro-growth affordable housing policies, encouraging small business and entrepreneurs).
    4. Discredited economic policies that don’t work, but worsen income inequality, resulting in a decline in aggregate demand with resulting persistent unemployment.
    5. A steadfast refusal to allow creative destruction to occur, by always backing their rich mates with government money.

    My best case scenario is that Abbott somehow stays in; perhaps by Turnbull refusing to run and not contesting the next election. That would be hilarious. I want the Liberal Party to lose its only member who has not yet gone full retard; it will be glorious!

    • If the Libs were honest “Backing our rich mates with government money!” would be their next campaign slogan. Got it in one..

    • The Republicans party in the US survives due to gerrymandering, which makes election to the House almost certain for ideolouges but lock them out of the presidency.
      The Liberal Party has a different problem. Their base is moderate, however the PM relies on the ultra-Right in the Liberal party. Abbott’s self interest does not align with the Liberal Party anymore.
      The ALP is targetting Canniings with laser precision. A 52-48 win to the ALP will have Abbott remain in power but heavily damaged. Abbott’s only hope now is the ISIS.

  3. Will it be a Turnbull government though? Or will captain copper be put in front as an image of liberalism and progressiveness while the conservatives pull the strings up above.

    • “Will it be a Turnbull government though?”

      No it won’t. The man who said “I will not lead a party that is not as committed to effective action on climate change as I am” has already apparently ruled out an ETS and plans to stick with Direct Action if he returns as leader.

      • DA and ETS (or carbon tax) are not an either/or. You can do both (and probably should do both a ‘targeted’ Direct Action can be an effective tool in small doses). So MT can keep DA to keep his word and be seen to be “Backing our rich mates with government money!”, as well as doing something that has been proven to work – carbon tax or an ETS.

    • FiftiesFibroShack

      Given the sheer incompetence of this LNP mob it’s quite possible that they give us PM Dutton.

  4. “Coalition whip Andrew Nikolic confirmed last night that he sent a text message to Mr Turnbull at 6.12am on Friday to alert him to news reports of a potential leadership spill and ask him to make a public statement of support for the Prime Minister. ”

    Nikolic is not the quickest thinker amongst the Liberals and had to have it pointed out to him that the Daily Telegraph (where the original piece appeared) is the favourite of a different leadership challenger (ScoMo).

    The good news is that he only holds Bass by 4% so the man he defends so clumsily will lead him to doom if he’s allowed to by the (relatively) sensible ones in the party-room.

  5. Abbott is gone by the end of next week. It’s all over red rover, put down your glasses, lock it in. He’s gone. Australians have spoken, and they have said no to fascism.

  6. Whether Abbott survives this latest crisis or not, one fact is certainly already baked in.

    Joe Hockey is finished.
    In “The Saturday Paper” they were even making the comparison of him and Whitlam Treasurer Dr Jim Cairns!

    In fact there are rumors that Hockey has become so frustrated with his lot in life that he will quit parliament next year.

    • ErmingtonPlumbing

      He wants to bail before the coming economic crash, which he knows is unavoidable, then with his Kudos in tact, can start making some real money peddling Gonvernment Access to the Coporate sector.

    • That would be surprising if he quits. Never underestimate how hard it is to remove ones snout from the trough.

      • He can market himself as the former treasurer, his nose will remain firmly in the trough.

        The last lib treasurer was equally as incompetent, and his lot in life hasn’t been affected.

  7. Abbott’s not the problem. Nor was Gillard, Rudd or Howard. Turnbull is not the solution. The individuals are simply symptoms of much deeper problems in our democracy (& the West more generally). Until the citizenry rouses itself out of its apathy matters will continue to deteriorate (possibly to eventual collapse in the long term).

    • Admittedly I don’t really know how Australians think, but I suspect there is an underlying anger that their living standards are not rising as quickly as they did under the unsustainable Howard era. Even though we missed out on a technical recession the GFC fundamentally changed things, and Australians are pissed. Until they accept we’re in a tougher, slower growth world they’re going to contiune to be pissy at all politicians.

      All that being said, I agree that Australains should be more active in understanding our dubious democratic processes and how they’re being screwed, otherwise things could get even uglier as time goes on

      • For anyone to be complaining about “living standards not rising as high as they were under Howard” says all you need to know about Australian ‘thinking’.

        That mob were handed the heavy lifting on a platter as well as a rainbow in the ass by a global commodity boom.

        And they stuffed it up for short term gain.

        What should arise anger isn’t the living standards bit, but the calibre of reformist the Hawke/Keating government had, that are no longer present.

    • ^ this comment makes all other comments redundant. Spot on!

      Unless this time is different, and our saviour is just around the corner…

  8. It’s all a bit sad really.

    Abbott came into government and quickly set about delivering on his three key promises: removing the carbon tax, mining tax and stopping the boats. Very hard to recall anything positive delivered from the six years of RuddGillardRudd, apart from an entertaining television docudrama.

    Let’s face it, a big chunk of the media were never ever going to accept Abbott. This was apparent from day one. And of course, the disgrace in the Senate, led by Labor, were intent on self agrandizing with little regard for the state of the Australian economy nor our deteriorating fiscal position.

    Alas Abbott, a decent bloke – one who as Bob Ellis reminds us is ” good mannered” “formidable” and possesses a “first-class mind” never got a running chance. That said, politics is a harsh business, and if you can’t persuade policy (or the more rabid elements of media and particularly social media) you’re a goner.

    • “Let’s face it, a big chunk of the media were never ever going to accept Abbott”

      Acceptance is earned, not given.

      That’s the problem with the libs, never had to work an honest days work in their lives, handed largesse off the back off people who work for a living. Much like yourself really.

      You should try it, it gives you a new perspective, you’ll feel liberated.

    • “Very hard to recall anything positive delivered from the six years of RuddGillardRudd”
      NDIS, carbon pricing and some actual action on climate change, NBN, Gonski, national apology… Yeah but apart from that, what have the Romans done for us?

      “a big chunk of the media were never ever going to accept Abbott”
      Except for News, who control the majority of our media. And Jones/Hadley/every shock jock. That Abbott ever had support from any media shows the vegetative state of mainstream media.

      “Abbott, a decent bloke”
      Have you ever asked a woman who knows him what he is like?

      It’s hard to recall a comment, even from you 3d, with less critical thinking.

      • NDIS is a millstone around the national neck. Removal of carbon tax was desired and delivered. Gonksi, lol. Sorry, a feelgood factor, not a policy.

        What really was owed was a Great Big Sorry to the nation for trashing our fiscal position whilst obsessively foccussed on power games.

      • You know Gonski funding is being used nationally right now, in virtually every school, and making significant differences both to kids that are struggling and to those who are excelling. Maybe ask a teacher abut the difference it makes having additional staff to support the kids that need it.
        NDIS a millstone? Nah, You’re thinking about subsidies for mining companies. The NDIS is designed to take the pressure off the medical system and get people with disabilities into a position where they can contribute.
        As for carbon pricing – given that Abbott has crippled investment in renewables just as the world is shifting towards them, killing it is not such a smart idea now is it.

      • Wow!! Just like Dutton, you’ve discovered humour!!! Whereas Dutton’s entre was somewhat tentative, yours is radically uninhibited. Gotta love a good belly laugh, cheers.

      • I don’t often agree with 3d1k, but I agree with him on NDIS. NDIS have the best of intentions, but it’s horrendously expensive. It’s marked to cost 20 billion dollars a year by 2020. In the meantime, nobody actually knows how it works or how it’s going to work.
        Abbott should have not have agreed to funding NDIS as an election promise. The political calculation is that since the cost doesn’t blow out until a few years later, by then it’ll be ‘somebody else’s problem’.

      • As I’m sure that you were just as concerned about media bias during the RGR years, all I can do is give you some advice from the time.

        It was provided to me by a ”good mannered” and “formidable” man with a “first-class mind” so I’m sure you’ll find it useful.

        “The reason why this government gets poor coverage, at least in some areas of the media, is because it has been the worst government in our history,” he said.

        “If you want better coverage, be a better government.”

        Mr Abbott said a free media must be allowed to take a position, as many newspapers had done in 2007 when they supported Mr Rudd over then-prime minister John Howard.

        “I didn’t hear Mr Rudd complaining then,” Mr Abbott said.

        “I suspect that many of them will support a change of government this time, and that’s their right.

        “But fundamentally, if you want good coverage, you’ve got to perform well.”

      • The Traveling Wilbur

        Definitely two 3ds. Please bring back the one that’s obviously over thirty, remembers he endorsed NDIS only a couple of months ago and has a speech pattern that doesn’t resemble a twelve-yearold’s. Has the real 3d been on leave? When he gets back I imagine handover will be hilarious given the shit job that you’ve been doing in his absence.
        Better luck with the next gig. Not.

  9. If they stick with Abbott they are doomed.

    A switch to Turnbull might give them a temporary bounce but don’t underestimate the “anyone but Malcolm” vibe in a large section of the Liberal Party.

    What they SHOULD do (from a self preservation perspective) is look for a compromisr candidate – Julie Bishop.
    With MT as treasurer and ScoMo promoted to Deputy Leader. Everyone wins a prize.

      • I said “should” not “would”.
        But you never know.

        Opinion polls suggest that she is the public’s 3rd choice after Tones and MT.
        She has been playing a careful fence sitting game, trying not to piss off either the moderates or the hard right. She’s being trying to build a persona of “loyal deputy” (with varying results) but loyalty is a rare and well received quality in politics.

        Advantage – she would give the LNP considerably more appeal to women, a segment of the population who has marched away from the Liberals in decisive numbers under Abbott.
        Disadvantage – she is a bit of a light weight on economics. She only lasted 6 months in the Shadow Treasurer role. Would need a competent (and loyal) Treasurer. MT and Bishop have a good personal relationship so that might work.

      • To add to the disadvantages…she’s an unmarried childless woman from WA (only 1 PM ever).

        Absolutely no chance of becoming PM in the LNP. Perfect as the deputy whose sole loyalty is to her position not any particular leader.

  10. Do you notice that NO MINISTERS apart from Dutton are publicly defending him?
    Contrast this with February.
    Abbott’s gone.

  11. Just now.. Leadership challenge. Watch ABC 24. Turnbull press conference 4pm today. Time for Tone and Joe to go..

  12. Yep, it’s officially on and Bishop is running as deputy to Turnbull. Sorry 3d but she’ll never be more than bridesmaid.