Tony Abbott rushed a party room vote today (presumably he thought the longer his opponents had to organise, the more votes their would be against him) and got a result that was close to the best the Labor opposition could have hoped for. He defeated the motion 61-39 and he’s playing that up as a victory. All the facile comments about “that’s an end to it” and “looking to the future” are completely ignoring reality.
Tony Abbott is a dead man walking.
For a bit of historical context, in June 1991, Paul Keating challenged sitting PM Bob Hawke and Hawke won the vote 66-44 but it was only delaying the inevitable. In December 1991 Keating struck again and this time he won the vote 56-51. Keating then went on to win the next Federal election (somewhat surprisingly).
More recently, the first time Kevin Rudd challenged sitting PM Julia Gillard in February 2012 (after himself being knocked off by Gillard) he lost the challenge 71-31. Despite Gillard winning the vote by a wider margin than Abbott did today, nobody thought it was over. Rudd came back in June 2013 and defeated Gillard 57-45. Rudd then led Labor to a rather resounding defeat at the next election.
Those number alone tell you Abbott’s on borrowed time. The really damning fact is that all of the challenges detailed above involved an aggressive challenger taking on the sitting leader. Abbott was facing a challenge from NOBODY. It was pure a vote to say “this bloke totally sucks balls – we need to get rid of him, don’t we?”
The Liberals seem to be marching in lockstep now, publicly saying Abbott now needs time to show he can turn things around. But it’s all bullshit. Everyone knows Abbott is mortally wounded. His own words damn him.