It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of #libspill, the spill motion proposed and backed by three Western Australian MP’s, a motion that could see Tony Abbott ousted after only 16 months in office. I don’t blame anyone for salivating over this prospect. After all, his attacks on the things that make Australia great (health and welfare safety nets, HECS, foreign aid, the ABC, stance against racial discrimination, the NBN, action on climate change and science, to name a few) have been relentless. Putting a stop to this unfair austerity is paramount. Not to mention the beautiful irony of the Liberals experiencing the very instability they spent years mocking Labor for.
However, as tempting as it sounds, I worry Abbott’s deposition would be a danger to progressive Australia. The short term benefits would be great, but ultimately it doesn’t matter who is captain, the ship will still be the same. The Liberal party have an agenda and it won’t be stopped by a change of leader. They will still demonize asylum seekers and welfare recipients, still try to erode Medicare and workplace rights, still attack tertiary education, still look after their mates in mining and ignore (or go backwards on) climate change. Whether Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop, Scott Morrison or Malcolm Turnbull is at the helm, the direction will be the same.
In fact, the spill presents the risk of getting a better, more charismatic leader like Turnbull, who may have more success selling the Liberal message. Thankfully, the incompetence of Abbott and Joe Hockey have spared us some of the worst cuts from the 2014 budget, however I feel Turnbull may have more luck. Turnbull has a lot of support in the progressive community, with many people believing he is a closet Leftie. While he has stated his support for marriage equality and action on climate change in the past, we have been reminded recently that politicians lie. Turnbull has aligned himself solidly with the Liberal message and I believe any Left trust in him is misplaced.
Abbott’s continued leadership is, by far, the most damaging thing to the Liberal party. The longer he stays PM, the more Australians he will offend, embarrass with his non-stop gaffes or threaten with austerity until there will be nobody left to support him or his party. Even die-hard conservatives have jumped ship after the Prince Philip knighthood fiasco, no longer able to defend the PM after so many insane decisions. People have long memories, especially when they’ve been lied to or been the target of cuts and contempt.
My hope would be for Abbott to sail through tomorrow’s spill unopposed. The fact that a spill was even attempted hurts the Liberal party, but I want to see him carry on with his current course, approval rating plummeting, until he has driven the hate so deep into Australia’s collective mind that it will last multiple terms of government. I want Abbott to ride his sinking ship all the way to the next election and see him absolutely destroyed.