Abbott-Watch #libspill, get your popcorn

A thread to share anything especially entertaining or infuriating regarding tonight’s Liberal party leadership ballot.

To get started: Tony Abbott leadership challenge: transcript of Malcolm Turnbull’s blistering speech

Categories: culture wars, parties and factions

Tags: , , ,

37 replies

  1. I think the thing which amuses me most is that both Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have effectively said they want to re-arrange the Australian electoral system to make the position of Prime Minister appointed via direct election. “It’s a gift of the Australian People” they tell us.

    No, actually guys, it isn’t. If you check the constitution, you’ll find the office of the Prime Minister is actually the direct gift of the Governor General – it’s just that by parliamentary convention the office is given to the leader of the party with the majority of seats in the House of Representatives. Nothing in there about the majority of the Australian people choosing the PM at all. But if you like, you can have a plebiscite…

  2. I can see that I’m going to be up ’til all hours tonight (2 hours ahead of you lot on the eastern seaboard of the West Island) waiting to see what happens.

  3. I can’t say anything that #auspol can’t, but there are some amusing tweets out there.

  4. Warren Truss (leader of the Nationals) apparently had to give his press release twice. The first time the Parliamentary Broadcasting system hadn’t rigged it up to broadcast (as per

    That can’t be good for his ego.

  5. Megpie71 – that ‘the people have chosen me’ thing annoys me too!
    All the news reports seem to be speaking of Abbott as if he’s as good as gone…

    • The only people who actually chose Tony Abbott were the majority of the voters of Warringah (many of whom would have voted for a dead emu if it were stood as a candidate by the Liberal party) and the parliamentary members of the Liberal party. What the people of Australia did at the last election was voted the ALP OUT. The Libs got in purely because they weren’t the ALP, and we’re not likely to be making that particular mistake again in a hurry.

      Really, the one I feel sorry for is Bill Shorten, who was clearly hoping that by running on a platform of “at least I’m not Tony Abbott” he’d be doing something unique and different in the next campaign (and hoping the ALP would get back in again through the same mechanism that the Liberals exploited in 2013).

      • Some might argue that Kevin Rudd got in on the ‘ I’m not John Howard ‘ ticket, so it’s been a tried and true strategy for a while…

  6. Bloody hell. The vote isn’t until 11.15pm NZ time. I’m going to bed.

  7. We have a new PM. Malcolm Turnbull has been elected 54 votes to 44, and Tony Abbott is now going to be white-anting things from the back benches. Rupert Murdoch is expressing his sorrow that Tony was kicked out, and the whole of Australia is busy wondering why we’re listening to a cranky old sociopath who isn’t even an Australian citizen (hey, a girl can hope). I think I’m just going to bask in the relief of knowing that at least we don’t have a PM who is an international embarrassment any more.


  8. For the benefit of a reader on the opposite side of the planet who is not very familiar with Aussie politics: is Malcolm Turnbull:

    a. A Good Guy?
    b. A Bad Guy, but not as bad as Abbott?
    c. Same old manure, just a different face?
    d. None of the above?

    • AMM, it’s complicated.

      A. Can an ex-merchant banker ever really be considered a Good Guy? (insert rant about knowing finance not being the same as understanding economics here, and how journos are continually getting this wrong) He is at least socially progressive on marriage equality and climate change, he self-identifies as a classic small-l liberal, and this enrages the conservatives and libertarians in the LNP, so those bits are Good.

      B. He is definitely not as bad as Abbott, but at least Abbott wore his badness on his sleeve. Turnbull is a bit of a slippery fish. He very nearly entered Federal politics on the promise of a Ministry in a Labor government before he ended up going with the LNP. He likes to spin this as being centrist, but I dunno. He has backflipped on several strong positions he took in the past in order to stay in the Abbott cabinet, when he could have stuck to his principles on the back bench. I don’t trust his ethics, sadly.

      C. Not exactly the same old manure, but probably too much of the old manure in the mix.

  9. Watching the Libs reluctantly give in to the polls re Turnbull, I can’t help but dream of Labor finally getting over their factional selves and giving in to the polls re Albanese. How I would love to see an election with Albo and Malcolm squaring off.

    • Unfortunately, thanks to the lovely changes one K Rudd made to the way the ALP leadership can be altered, I think we’re pretty much stuck with Shorten until either he accepts he’s unlikely to win an election on his own, or until there’s essentially an entire-party revolt. (I think it says a lot about Rudd that his legacy to his party is one which will essentially make them unable to win power).

  10. In other thoughts, I’m intrigued and alarmed by how cleverly Julie Bishop has played this to avoid getting blagged for disloyalty in the media. Turnbull only had the numbers to mount the challenge because she went and told him she’d swing her supporters behind him. She’s the kingmaker here, and I’m yet to see much emphasis on that in any press analysis.

    I suspect it was Abbott braying over Dutton’s “lapping at your door” joke that pushed her over the brink, btw. One foreign policy gaffe too far for a Foreign Affairs minister, methinks.

    • I wonder how much of that is the “you can’t have a woman kingmaker, that just doesn’t make sense”. Even Monty Python agrees “watery tarts chucking swords at people is no basis for a system of government”.

      I think Turnbull has a chance for a few “captain’s picks” of his own, but I fear he may try to play the centrist peacemaker instead. My hope is he turns to the fascist side of the party and says “guess you lose” and does prompt volte-face on refugees, same-sex marriage and a few other stupidities.

      • Turnbull’s intelligent and cynical enough to keep straddling that fence and keep turning that coat to whatever positions will preserve his political career. Because he has a certain gimlet-eyed charm and speaks in complete sentences, this will fool plenty of voters into thinking he’s on their side, even when those voters are on competing sides.

        I’m not holding my breath for major LNP policy changes just yet. All we’re going to get is some polishing of existing turds and a sudden cessation of the most cringemaking soundbites.

      • I wonder how much Tony is regretting his ‘She’s a loyal girl’ line now. If I were Julie Bishop I would be having a hard time not shoving that back in his face.

        I wonder if Turnbull has had to make a few ‘nothing will change, all business as usual’ promises in order to get the numbers. In which case, he might wait until he has consolidated his position a bit before making any significant changes.

      • I remember her face when he said that, angharad. There was a definite “I’ll do you slowly mate” glint.

        Turnbull must have made business-as-usual promises to get the numbers, there’s no other way he could have won. He’ll have to win an election before he can do anything much different, and that’s assuming that he really wants to.

      • IIRC Julia Gillard was a major kingmaker for Mark Latham back in the day, and that was well and truly picked apart by the media at the time (that’s how I know about it, for one). The media I read does not seem to have come to grips with Julie Bishop in the same way.

        My prediction is the same as tigtog’s re Turnbull. The right of the party is very powerful and they’ve rolled Turnbull once before. I think if he wanted to flip them off he wouldn’t now be leader of their party, again. That said, one of their issues is being substantially to the right of the population at large; Turnbull may have some ability to move towards a centrist position where the polls and focus groups suggest it. Maybe on marriage equality, but I think that is shamefully not the case on treatment of refugees.

    • Peter Hartcher’s article, which reads like Bishop and Morrison are his sources, doesn’t tell this story. Instead, if accurate, Bishop was trying to serve as a loyal deputy well into the evening until Abbott threw her under the bus trying to appeal to Morrison. Makes her lonely walk into the vote make sense.

  11. Leunig: – [image description: Colour cartoon / illustration by Michael Leunig titled “The End of Part One.” A pair of Tony Abbott’s red Speedos / budgie smugglers abandoned on a beach. A budgie is walking away from the Speedos.]

    SBS Comedy: Julia Gillard Rushed To Hospital After Overdosing On Schadenfreude

  12. John Key in NZ is a scary example of what a personable merchant banker can be like as prime minister. Lets hope we don’t get that here.

    • From the Conversation: “Turnbull … pointed to the example of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who had been able to achieve very significant economic reforms by explaining complex issues and then making the case for them.”

      That’s arguable, I think it’s more that he’s remained personable while having Labour play the fool, and used that to focus on populist issues while economically putting the boot in. Let’s have a flag, a plebiscite, revise the electoral system… and private prisons, sell off state housing, defund anti-violence programs and so on.

    • this is an interesting take:

      The comments from Keating seem appropriate:

      Keating told Kevin Rudd when Turnbull first took leadership of the Liberal Party that Turnbull was brilliant and utterly fearless. And of course, as should be obvious at this point, it is common knowledge that Turnbull is charismatic and extremely ambitious.

      But Keating’s ultimate view on Turnbull is that he has poor judgement — in short, that he is not wise.

  13. Where are you all going to get your guidance and reassurance from now that you no longer have a minister for women?

  14. I found it interesting that my left leaning FB feed had quite a few cold feet and people thinking that Abbott might scrape through. It seems that hope has been squished out.

    • A cartoon circulated on my feed of a hand hovering over two buttons. One button was labeled “get rid of Tony, he is destroying the country” and the other read “keep Tony, he is destroying the LNP”. That’s how I was feeling. I felt that Tony would successfully keep the LNP from a second term, but I don’t feel that Shorten can successfully win the next election. Shorten is a better option than Tony, but that low-bar option is no longer there. Turnbull seems so much nicer, even if the policies haven’t changed, I worry that Turnbull will be able to fool the electorate where Tony couldn’t anymore.

  15. There’s a bit of a “well, at least Abbott would have delivered us an ALP government next term” sentiment about and I feel conflicted about it.

    For sure, it’s impossible that the Coalition government under Turnbull will be the government we want here. (Nor would the ALP most likely.) But I’d still be happier about a better government, and the Turnbull government may be that, if only slightly. I do not wish Abbott on Australia now in return for future gains. I think it’s possible to hold both ideas: the Turnbull government will not be what we want, and we should and will mostly oppose it; AND it may also be a marked improvement on Abbott’s as time goes by.

    • It could cut both ways. If Turbull isn’t what people expect the electorate could be quite happy to vote in Labor next election. Or if he delivers most of what people want they might give him another chance. The next 12 months could be quite interesting.

    • If the Liberals had kept Abbott, we still would have got a socially conservative, economically neo-liberal government which would continue the policies of punishing the unemployed, refugees, Indigenous Australians and anyone outside the big end of town after the 2016 elections. It’s just that they would have been wearing red ties and called themselves the ALP.

      The ALP these days are politically bankrupt – Bill Shorten’s main manoeuvre when confronted with any policy move by the Liberals has been to say “well, yeah, we’ll do that too!” and following along blithely as the Liberals under Abbott tugged the Overton window of Australian political discussion over to the far right. Shorten was and remains an ALP Right power-broker, which means he’s effectively a socially and economic conservative politician who came up through the union movement. The only reason the ALP Right isn’t actually part of the Liberal party is because they don’t share well with other children, and don’t want to have to rely on the idea of forming a coalition with the Nationals for power.

      Quite frankly, I’m not holding out huge hopes for Malcolm Turnbull to manage to tug the current Liberals over to the left a bit during this current term of government. The far-right wing of the Liberal party (the extreme authoritarians, the ones who were cheerfully moving into Tony Abbott’s castle in the air) have a bit too much power within the party at the moment, and they’re very much used to wielding it at present. Watch Cory Bernardi and his chums for a guess at which way this particular rump of the party is going to jump – at the moment there’s a certain degree of sulky “take our bat and ball and go home” being noised around, which, if they carry through on the threat, could spell a certain amount of internal trouble for Turnbull should he attempt to nudge policy in even the slightest toward the left.

      (It’s worth noting, however, that this particular group does tend to talk a good game, but never really follow through with action – indeed, one of the things which was so aggravating about Tony Abbott when he was in charge was that he didn’t seem to realise there was a difference between his proclaiming a thing would happen, and it actually occurring).

  16. This Tony Abbott supporting staffer who called Turnbull the c-word should never hold another staff job. Staffers should be neither seen nor heard. They should never get so far above themselves as to speak to any MP like this, let alone a Prime Minister. When I worked and lived in Canberra I stood in an ATM queue behind John Howard. I shared a lift with Barnaby Joyce. I queued at Aussie’s coffee shop with Chris Pyne and George Brandis. It never crossed my mind to speak disrespectfully to them. This is how staffers are supposed to behave, and 99.9% of the time they do. There was once a Nationals staffer who sent a spam email about gay marriage to Labor staffers. He was sacked. If that was a sackable offence, this vulgar and childish behaviour merits a lifetime ban.

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