Australian politics time!
What the heck is going on?
The current (I haven’t checked the headlines so I’m assuming he’s still current) Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has had his leadership challenged by his party’s MPs. There is a good chance that he won’t be PM much longer.
But they can’t just depose your nation’s leader just like that?
Well yes, they can. That’s how the Westminster system works. For example, Margaret Thatcher stopped being PM in the UK because her own MPs ousted her. It’s meant to be a feature not a bug.
A rare occurrence only used in extremis then?
Um…well…it’s happened to the past four PMs. Malcolm Turnbull ousted Tony Abbot by this method.
So who is the challenger?
Initially a guy called Peter Dutton. He’s an ex-police officer with very right of centre politics.
But presumably he’s a great public speaker?
He sort of drones in a way that’s frankly unsettling and makes kittens cry.
But his supporters must think he has some electoral appeal. Is he dashingly handsome?
Come now, I’m not going to start judging people by their appearance. It is unseemly and irrelevant. The key thing is his right wing politics which will alienate many voters.
Did you just say underneath your breath that he looks like a gormless potato?
I would never…ok, yes I did.
But a man of steadfast integrity though?
He might be referred to the high court because of conflicts of financial interest that would make it illegal for him to sit in parliament.
Well it could be worse…
…and he may have used his position to reverse deportation for two foreign au-pairs for reasons he can’t explain…
He doesn’t sound like an ideal candidate?
Well the Australian Labor Party must be delighted but in reality Dutton will never be PM. He’s mainly just a weapon of the right of the Liberal Party to punish Malcolm Turnbull for not doing what they say.
You’ve explained this ‘Liberal’ party before. They’re actually conservatives?
Yes, its because of the Coriolis effect.
And Australia just likes to dump its Prime Ministers?
That’s a more recent phenomenon. John Howard was PM for several terms. This current habit started with Labor PM Kevin Rudd. His ousting was partly due to poor polling but also he was apparently a very poor manager who alienated colleagues.
So it’s a malaise that spread from Labor to Liberal?
Not quite…there are some common factors.
Could you list them as bullet points?
- Tony Abbot – aggressive right wing politician who relentlessly attacked Rudd when Abbot was leader of the opposition and then Gillard. As PM Abbot proved less than competent and was ousted by Turnbull but Abbot stayed in parliament to undermine Turnbull for revenge and ideological reasons.
- Energy policy. Politically (and electorally) Australia supports energy policies to minimise climate change and move from fossil fuels. Turnbull believe climate change is real and supports action to limit emissions. However, the right of the Liberal Party is vehemently in the climate denial camp and spends every effort to sabotage climate policy and scare monger about energy prices (which have risen in Australia for reasons OTHER than climate change measures).
- Immigration. While Australia leans progressively on climate, the same isn’t true on immigration and both Labor and the more centrist elements of the Liberal have adopted frankly appalling policies on asylum seekers to appease the Liberal right and fringe parties like One Nation. Scares about immigration or new immigrant communities are used as wedge issues by the right to destabilise centrist governments. (Oh, you’ve heard this song before…)
- Right wing media, in particular ‘Sky News’ owned by…Rupert Murdoch. (Oh, you’ve heard that song before also…)
What’s the good news?
Turnbull is a canny operator with little to lose and a house that has a Scrooge McDuck style vault of money in it . He doing his best to ruin any chance of Dutton becoming PM. In particular he’s made it clear that if he is ousted then he’ll reign from parliament. The government have a razor thin majority of 1 MP, so if Turnbull goes, the government won’t have a majority.
What’s the bad news?
Turnbull’s delaying tactics will help a more moderate replacement get enough support to stand, replacing Turnbull with somebody who would be more electorally palatable. The political paradox that helps fuels this kind of chaos is that the electorate HATE this kind of instability but often reward a new party leader with a boost in the polls. That might be enough for the Liberals to win a general election which will mean another three years of this kind of divisive nonsense from the Liberal’s right.
What’s the other good news?
You get great sausage sandwiches at polling booths on Election Day.