Disloyal deputy Bishop knifes Abbott, and Turnbull becomes the new PM

The whirlwind dumping of Tony Abbott as Liberal Prime Minister, in a very sudden and craftily orchestrated coup, has certainly now set the cat amongst the pigeons in conservative Australian politics.

On the surface, the decision by the Liberals to dump Abbott seems puzzling. Whilst the Abbott government had been consistently trailing Labor in the major opinion polls, it’s certainly not unusual for a governing party to be behind a year out before an election, before making up the required ground to hold onto power when the election comes. And history shows that it’s extremely rare for voters to dismiss a federal government after just one term.

Whilst Abbott drew much ire from the public with his horror first budget, indications were that his government’s approval was improving, given his “softer” second budget, and especially given his perceived “tough” measures on national security.

Abbott survived an earlier attempt six months previous to dump him as Prime Minister. Some Liberal MPs (particularly from WA) criticised his leadership style, and it would seem that this, rather than ideology or policy, is what got Abbott dumped.

Abbott’s deputy Julie Bishop wasn’t giving much away when she was questioned about why she turned on Abbott. She told the Sunrise TV programme “I became aware over recent days that a majority of the party room had lost confidence in Tony’s leadership and they gave me information I believed I need to inform the Prime Minister of that information”.

In other words, Bishop just went along with the crowd, when she perceived that Abbott had lost sufficient party room support. She will now continue to serve as deputy under Turnbull. Commentators suggest that Bishop turning on Abbott was a key factor in why Turnbull eventually got the numbers. But the final count was Turnbull 54, Abbott 44 — a very close contest indeed. If Bishop had stayed loyal, Abbott would likely have remained Prime Minister.

Of course, Australia’s new Prime Minister is now Malcolm Turnbull, hardly likely to be a unifying figure for the Liberal Party. Turnbull, who has been described as a “progressive”, is a former lawyer and merchant banker, and a partner at notorious banking giant Goldman Sachs. He once offered to become Finance Minister in a Kim Beazley-led Labor government, and is well-known to have considerably more “progressive” views on some issues than Tony Abbott, or many rank-and-file Liberals for that matter. The slick, eloquent and obviously cunning Turnbull, always known to be highly ambitious, seized the opportunity when it presented, and now has his desire — to become Prime Minister of Australia. Many rank-and-file Liberal members will undoubtedly be very disappointed with his appointment, and the resignations have already begun.

Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett savaged Turnbull in the press, dubbing him “the Kevin Rudd of the Liberal Party” and criticising Turnbull’s “gross disloyalty” and “extreme egotism”.

It would seem that the Liberal Party machine panicked at the consistently poor opinion polls, and felt that taking a chance with Turnbull was their best chance to get re-elected. As with the previous Labor government, it would seem that personal egos, ambition, fear, and a win-at-any-cost attitude are now driving governments. And hopefully it will become more clear to conservative voters that the Liberal Party has become just as morally corrupted as the Labor Party.

It could also be that Australia has now entered a new era of revolving door Prime Ministers. We’ve now had five since 2007 (Rudd twice). Any hint of failure, and their own party will kick them out the door. Perhaps Turnbull’s own tenure will not be for very long.

A disastrous first budget began Tony Abbott’s death spiral”, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 September 2015 (Tom Allard)
Julie Bishop: Why I moved against Tony Abbott”, Yahoo News, 15 September 2015 (The West Australian: Melissa Hills)
Liberal leadership: Jeff Kennett slams Malcolm Turnbull as ‘the Kevin Rudd of the Liberal Party’”, ABC, 15 September 2015
Ousted Australian PM Tony Abbott fires parting shot at media”, CNN, 15 September 2015 (Hilary Whiteman)
Liberal Party of Australia leadership spill motion, February 2015”, Wikipedia
Malcolm Turnbull feels heat after he wanted to serve Kim Beazley”, The Sunday Mail (Qld.), 23 August 2009 (Glenn Milne and AAP)


  1. Very sad to see our Knight dismembered by his own party and the embarrassing sham on 2GB over the Hadley Morrison fiasco. Hadley made a complete idiot of himself where as the Right Honourable Mr Morrison was as honest and stately and loyal as ever. Ray Hadley is a boof head and as for the bible thing, how embarrassing. No, there is a lot of angry Libs out there and we don’t like it. I thought that they were above this, unfortunately they have brought themselves down to the level of the Bolshy Labor party. Shame on Bishop, that pair are as slippery as shorten. Move on I say and have Morrison as our new potential Prime Minister. This cannot be a surprise to anyone as they have been white anting Mr Abbott for months. Too loyal as far as Hockey goes. These Jesuits stick together, and I hope Pine was not involved otherwise I will lose all respect for him as well. I hope Bernardi is successful in forming a new party he will get my vote. Now we have two Labor Parties. Eeeekk. In a perfect World.

    • Eddy thats politics. Like it or lump it, thats our parlimentary system, it may not be perfect but it represents probably the best form of government that exists anywhere.

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