Tony Windsor, one of the kingmakers in the Gillard minority government – and for much of his career one of the nation’s most popular and respected politicians – has tonight predicted the Liberal Party is preparing to move against Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
In a tweet sent earlier this evening, Windsor wrote: “Strong vibes that Morrison has moved to support a Turnbull-Bishop team – tap to come from Qld stalking horse. Morrison wants Joes job.”
Fairfax media has reported that cabinet will meet for two days this week for a pre-arranged thrashing out of a policy agenda for 2015. But the electoral disaster for the Queensland Liberal-National Party overnight will almost certainly dominate cabinet discussions.
The ‘Queensland stalking horse’ Windsor refers to is Mal Brough, who has declined to deny rumours that he was approached by backbenchers to challenge the Prime Minister, thus paving the way for a real leadership challenge among the cabinet heavy weights.
And of course, ‘Joe’s job’ is a reference to Treasurer Joe Hockey. Scott Morrison studied economics at the University of New South Wales, and is the architect
Morrison himself has been touted as a potential leader, but Julie Bishop has been more widely discussed as a replacement for Abbott. Polls indicate stronger public support for Malcolm Turnbull – ironically, Bishop was Turnbull’s deputy when Abbott deposed the member for Wentworth in December 2009, to take over the leadership.
Abbott’s win in the partyroom was a close call – he won by just one vote (42-41) over Turnbull, but few expected Abbott would survive as leader, and even fewer believed he would become Prime Minister.
Of course, Abbott defied the odds, and led the Coalition to a narrow loss in the August 2010 election. Polls at the start of the campaign tipped Gillard would be returned with an increased majority, but Abbott ran an effective campaign, and delivered a hung parliament.
It was Tony Windsor who teamed up with fellow independents Andrew Wilkie and Rob Oakeshott, along with the Greens Adam Bandt who denied Abbott The Lodge.
At the time, Windsor revealed that during Abbott’s plea to back the Liberals, Abbott had told him “the only thing I wouldn't do is sell my arse – but I'd have to give serious thought to it”.
As it turns out, ‘selling’ has been Tony Abbott’s biggest problem in office – the public doesn’t much like what he has on offer.
Federal Parliament returns on February 9. New Matilda’s Amy McQuire will be reporting from the Canberra press gallery when it does.
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