Exit pursued by a Turnbull…

Around 11.30am yesterday at City Diggers I said to Alex: “Will Tony Abbott be there at the end of the week?” His answer: “No.” Or as Jim Belshaw posted on Saturday: “Even if the Liberal Party holds the seat [of Canning] without the expected swing, the present Australian government is probably just too accident prone for Mr Abbott to survive.”  (Worth reviewing Jim’s posts on Mr Abbott.)

Turnbull ousts Abbott as Prime Minister in late night vote

Updated about an hour ago

Malcolm Turnbull has won a ballot for the leadership of the Liberal Party by 10 votes over Tony Abbott, and will become the 29th Prime Minister of Australia. Mr Turnbull says he’s humbled and he’s looking to lead a conversation that persuades, rather than lectures the public about the future challenges of the economy and the nation. Changes are expected to the Government frontbench, but Mr Turnbull says he’s not expecting to call an early election.

As I write I have – rare for me – breakfast TV on: ABC News 24 of course. Nice cartoon by John Shakespeare:


That heads a Herald piece by former Liberal minister Peter Reith.

What many people may not appreciate is that an important part of John Howard’s success was that he was good with colleagues. Some of them were a pain in the neck but John managed them all. My guess is that Tony was a long way short of John Howard in that department. People management is a key criteria for being a successful PM and hence one reason that Julie Bishop’s name is often mentioned as a future PM and not surprisingly Bishop will play a key role in working with colleagues.

Second, his office still had problems. Tony kept his chief of staff out of a sense of loyalty but there was a bigger loyalty required. Namely his loyalty to his team and supporters.

Thirdly, the reality was that the daily restatement the government has a plan was not in itself enough. The latest unemployment figures were better than expected but they are only part of the picture. There was no excuse for Abbott’s lack of a comprehensive plan. This problem started well before the 2013 election and two years later no one could tell you the government’s thinking on key reforms like federal/state relations, and tax and workplace relations. Instead of making decisions on these vital issues, they have all been shoved off for yet another report.

It is no secret that I have not been Tony Abbott’s greatest fan. Witness this image for example:


Just a couple of points. Last night Tony Abbott said:

The prime ministership of this country is not a prize or a plaything to be demanded. It should be something which is earned by a vote of the Australian people. There will be a party room ballot for both the leadership and the deputy leadership positions later this evening. I will be a candidate and I expect to win.

Others say similar things, but I reaffirm that here in Australia the people do not vote for the Prime Minister. That office is in the gift of whichever party wins a Federal Election: that party’s leader becomes PM. We just vote for our local member of parliament.

Malcolm Turnbull said, among other things:

We need to restore traditional Cabinet government. There must be an end to policy on the run and captain’s calls. We need to be truly consultative with colleagues, members of parliament, senators, and the wider public. We need an open government.

Let’s hope that becomes the case.

Ironically, Tony Abbott’s tenure as PM was shorter by a year than Julia Gillard’s!