In a couple of weeks there will be a by-election in Western Australia which, if the Liberals lose, could see a new Prime Minister and a new leader of the Labor Party not long after. Continued internal rumblings in the Liberal Party suggest Prime Minister Tony Abbott is just hanging on to the job and many predict he will be gone if the safe Liberal seat of Canning is lost.
What most people are not talking about is that Labor Leader Bill Shorten would almost certainly lose his position as well as he is not popular with the voters. The only thing that keeps Shorten in the job is that the voters like Tony Abbott even less and the polls have been saying this for a long time. (Click here to read more)
Background – The by-election
There is a by-election in the federal seat of Canning in Western Australia on the 17th September 2015 because of the death Liberal MP Don Randall. There are 12 candidates and there needs to be a 11.8% swing against the Liberals for them to lose. Most polls are currently saying the swing is about 10% which makes it very close. (Click here to read more)
Below is a fair summary of Abbott’s position:
“Depending on the result, the Canning by-election might signal the beginning of a comeback for Abbott and his Government – just as Aston did for John Howard. It might mean the end of his leadership. Or it might mean nothing at all. The figures on the night will determine that. And this time if a leader falls it won’t be in the dead of night leaving an electorate stunned. It will have a basis in fact, the result of a real poll.” (Click here to read more)
Tony Abbott’s poor position has mostly been his own doing although some ministers have badly let him down. He has not been a good Prime Minister and if Labor had someone besides Bill Shorten as their leader who was half decent Abbott probably would have been replaced by now.
The Conversation website says:
“Fight is what Abbott does best – but this penchant for pugilism is his great weakness as well as a strength.”
“The prime minister, who won power two years ago on Monday, is most at home in combat, whether on the domestic campaign trail or escalating Australia’s commitment to a battle abroad.”
“A Liberal parliamentarian, highly critical of Abbott, describes his current approach to government as “doing what comes naturally – he’s trying to be a warrior. He’s relying on a small circle of advice; he’s going back to areas he’s comfortable with.””
“In February a deeply disillusioned Liberal backbench, angry at the command-and-control style of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and especially chief-of-staff Peta Credlin, fearful about the bad polls, appalled at the Prince Philip knighthood “captain’s pick” and shocked at Campbell Newman’s Queensland defeat, gave Abbott a huge scare with a spill motion that mustered a substantial 39 votes, to the 61 against.” (Click here to read more)
This instability in Australian politics obviously has short-term problems but in the longer term should be good for the country as it is sending a message to all politicians that poor performance won’t be tolerated. It is being driven to a large extent by a less tolerant and better educated public who demand more from their politicians.
How long Tony Abbott survives is unknown but the Canning by-election could have a huge bearing on it.
If Abbott is replaced by Malcolm Turnbull then the polls would probably do a huge reversal in the short-term at least and make it almost impossible for Labor’s Bill Shorten to survive. Then again maybe no one in Labor would want the leadership 12 months out from a federal election if they thought Labor were certain to lose it.
Bill shorten’s performance as leader will also be gauged to some degree depending on how well Labor does or doesn’t do in the Canning by-election. Although Shorten has a lot of problems coming his way such as a second appearance at the Trade Union Royal Commission which might decide his future irrespective of the Canning by-election. The Canning election will be Shorten’s first real test with voters as Labor leader but it is hard to gauge whether or not he will have any influence at all.
A change of leaders for both parties might be good for the country as federal politics to a large degree has seemed to stall making positive changes a lot over the last few years. Some issues seem to have been around forever and never get solved.
In a normal situation almost no one would care about the Canning by-election but it could be a real game changer depending on how the votes go and could decide the fate of a number of politicians. If Abbott goes so would quite few Ministers as well and if Shorten goes so will a number of Shadow Ministers.
It’s only a by-election but worth keeping an eye on as the federal political landscape could be totally changed in a couple of weeks depending on how the Canning by-election plays out.
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