WITH Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership almost certainly entering its final hours, the nation watches on, both entranced and appalled at the sight of yet another prime minister put to the sword not by his political opponents, but by his colleagues in truly Shakespearean fashion.
A number of major factors have brought us to this point. Despite sweeping into parliament like the Coalition’s answer to Bob Hawke a generation earlier, Mr Turnbull never really converted his early allure into political capital.
Having torn down one prime minister in Tony Abbott, Mr Turnbull was always open to similar treatment should he fail to satisfy the arch conservatives in the Coalition who were only willing to tolerate him as long as he kept them in government.
But from the time of his disastrous double dissolution election in 2016 – when the Coalition was reduced to a single seat majority – Mr Turnbull has done little more than tread water. Fearing electoral disaster should they not change leaders before the next poll, the anti-Turnbull forces are hoping that regicide will not be political suicide, and that yet another change in the top job might somehow stop the revolving door at The Lodge.
Ultimately, it’s not the swapping of leaders in itself, but the accelerated pace of the process that has set this leadership challenge apart from its predecessors.
In one light, this could be a positive, if it brings the bloodletting to a close, because there is no doubt that voters want their politicians back on the job, addressing the plethora of big ticket problems that require stronger and surer government than we’ve seen so far from Canberra.
But if climate change and power prices are the issues that ultimately led Mr Turnbull’s internal enemies to take up arms, there is little sign that their putsch will resolve the situation. This is because many of the agitators are – to be blunt – climate change deniers, out of step with scientific knowledge and public opinion.
Even so, the carbon question has been a political football for more than a decade – a ball the Liberal hard heads will be hoping they can kick into the long grass for a while longer as they clear the decks before an unavoidable election. An election that could well see the electorate take to the conservatives with a cricket bat.