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.