With just over one-third of his MPs willing to vote for a
spill motion and opinion polls at record lows, Tony Abbott's days as
prime minister are numbered, writes Dr Martin Hirst.
It is all over for Tony Abbott.
He survived a spill motion in today’s parliamentary Liberal Party meeting 61 votes to 39.
But the consensus is that he will not lead the coalition to the next election, due before September next year.
This is almost certain.
A NewsPoll public opinion survey released today has the ALP in an overwhelming position with a two-party preferred vote of 57 to 43.
Any election with those numbers would mean a wipe-out for the
Liberal-National coalition and a Labor government would hold a
Only a week ago Tony Abbott was addressing the National Press Club
to outline his Government’s agenda for 2015 and to push what has been
called the “reset” button in an attempt to reboot his personal
popularity and voter sentiment about the government he leads.
By the end of last week, two Western Australian backbenchers were so spooked by the negative reaction to Abbott’s NPC speech that they had called for a party room vote on his leadership.
He will hang on — for now.
But he is clearly a zombie prime minister, death marching towards the inevitable Abbocolypse.
How did it come to this?
The graphic below demonstrates very clearly why there has been a challenge to Tony Abbott only 16 months into his premiership.
He has never been popular with the Australian public.
The last time it was positive was in the period of the 2013 election
(held in September), but then it nose-dived quickly and now it is at
You can read plenty of profiles of Tony Abbott and many pundits (me
included) have theories as to why he is so unpopular. My view is that
he’s not only stiff, wooden and somehow slightly creepy, but he is also
so ideologically-driven in his attitudes that there is a dogged refusal
to face reality clouding his judgment.
Then there’s the policy questions.
Abbott made dozens of solid commitments prior to the election.
There were promises not to cut funding to education or health and to quarantine the ABC and the SBS from further budget cuts.
There was a promise that he would lead a “no surprises” government
and that he would be consultative and collegial and that he would govern
for “all” Australians.
He also (laughingly in my view) promised to be the “best friend” Australian workers ever had.
It turned out that these were just slogans – famously “three word” slogans – and that most of the promises would be ditched after the election.
They were ditched — and quickly too.
But Abbott has also made himself incredibly unpopular because of who he his.
He’s wooden and stiff and a backward-looking conservative.
He’s also prone to making stupid decisions – his famous “Captain’s Picks”
– such as giving an Australian knighthood to Prince Philip; making
himself the Minister for Women and, stupidly, threatening to
“shirtfront” Russian President Vladimir Putin over the MH17 shoot down
incident last year.
Abbott also does not understand the power of social media.
Last week he called Twitter “electronic graffiti” and claimed not to pay any attention to it.
Well, that has been a monumental mistake. Twitter has been in
meltdown for the past 18 months with vicious anti-Abbott memes and
hashtags which go viral within hours of being started.
Abbott may have survived this and weathered the storm until the next
election if he’d managed to hold onto the core — his own party and
But he’s failed there too.
According to insiders who’ve taken their complaints public
(and the number is significant) Abbott and his staff have bullied and
threatened MPs, refused to listen to advice and overruled their
He has failed to consult them and he’s made some stupid decisions that have now come back to drop on his head like bricks.
He has made a fool of himself in the eyes of intelligent Australians and he’s become an international laughing stock.
His days are numbered.
You can read more by Martin Hirst on his blog Ethical Martini and follow him on Twitter@ethicalmartini.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License