The prime ministerial way with words has struck again. Tony Abbott’s linking of Australian generosity with aid to Indonesia with the scheduled execution of drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran has placed him in dangerous political territory. If the view expressed in the media his morning that he has hindered diplomatic efforts to have the death penalty revoked catches on with the public it may well be the final straw for his leadership.
Already the media dogs are barking about another challenge. Mark Kenny was the loudest this morning with his “Leadership chatter has not stopped. It may all come to a head sooner than you think.”
But for Hockey, the primary question now must be whether he lasts long enough to deliver a second budget. He is as welded to Abbott as Abbott is to him. Liberals say they’ll go down together.Chatter in the government shows no signs of abating and could yet manifest itself in a sudden move to replace Abbott with Malcolm Turnbull as early as the first full sitting week beginning March 2.If that happens, the IGR [Intergenerational Report] will still be an important document because the long-term problems aren’t going away. But don’t expect to hear much about university deregulation or the toxic GP payment, no matter what Orwellian name it has acquired by then.*
[*Kenny notes in his story how the GP co-payment is now called, “somewhat comically, ‘a value signal in health’.”]
Graham Richardson in The Australian was delivering a similar warning:
For a party with a long tradition of sticking with elected prime ministers, that vote should have been the wake-up call of a lifetime for an embattled leader fast running out of friends. Whether his loss of sensory perception is in his eyes or his ears doesn’t really matter. Either way it will prove fatal.
The money is pointing in the same direction. The Owl’s market based Liberal Leadership Indicator has the probability of Malcolm Turnbull being PM at the next election increasing.