Back in February, the late Don Randall was one of two Western Australian Liberal MP’s who moved a spill motion in the Party Room intended to force their Prime Minister to face a challenge for his position.
It failed, but 39 MP’s supported the motion even though no candidate had stepped forward to run against Tony Abbott. Randall’s action significantly destabilised the Liberal Party and they have not recovered from it.
In mid September, Don Randall will once more shake the Liberals to the core. His death has created a By-Election in his seat of Canning in mid-September. It will determine the political fate of both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. The entire Parliament knows and fears the consequences.
This week, I spent three days in Canberra and met 29 MP’s from all parties in both Houses to discuss new policies on Ageing. Some were Ministers and Shadow Ministers, while others were influential members of Committees of Parliament and their Parties.
Without me having to ask, many volunteered their opinions on what will happen.
Most Liberals believe they will lose Canning even though it has an 11% margin because voters know that they can vote against Abbott without bringing down the government. Most will do just that so they can bluntly convey their disenchantment to Prime Minister who generates extraordinary hatred among voters.
Many Labor MP’s told me they were not so certain. They know that they should win, but acknowledge that Bill Shorten is almost anonymous and does not have a significant public following. They reckon that his blandness may cost them victory.
In addition, they have a genuine dilemma, being aware that a Canning loss will cause Abbott to be voted out by his Party and they don’t want this to happen. They want to run against him not Turnbull in the General Election.
The Greens feel they are growing in popularity and are in with a chance but their leader, Richard Di Natale, is more anonymous than Shorten.
A good Independent could win if he or she can finish ahead of the Palmer Party and get enough of their preferences to put them ahead of the Greens.
A strange result is possible as voters are in revolt against the Establishment and the political system and are ready to create anarchy. The popularity of Donald Trump in the United States gives them heart as it typifies their state of mind.
This should not surprise us as our Parliament had just one piece of legislation before it this week relating to lizards in the Galilee Coal Basin. They were otherwise consumed by Same Sex Marriage, Dyson Heydon and resolutions about the 100th Anniversary of Gallipoli that they forgot to pass in April.
My view is that no one really cares who is chosen as Prime Minister. Voters are now determined to toss out the PM every three years now matter how good he or she may be. They want all politicians to know that democracy is powerfully and viciously at work. The average Joe is in charge and intends to show no mercy.
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