‘My grand plan, how did it all go wrong?’
‘My grand plan, how did it all go wrong?’

How Dutton’s scheme failed spectacularly


THE tough-guy gang which believed it could take over government by promoting disunity has been sent packing after a week of turmoil.

The ideological quest to turn the Liberals to the hard right and further away from the political centre occupied by most voters has been rebuffed.

Scott Morrison, the incoming prime minister, is a mainstream conservative and no fan of Trump-like moves to redefine the party.

Speaking of which, the trumped-up chaos failed and just over half of the 85 Liberal MPs dismissed it as manufactured division to "attack the government from within", as Malcolm Turnbull put it.

While Mr Turnbull was clumsy in his management and inept in political delivery, his internal rivals were worse.

They were in the category often defined in US politics as: "Couldn't organise a one-car parade."

They angered the bulk of the party room by forcing a crisis. There clearly was no overwhelming enthusiasm for a second leadership and a change of three votes could have allowed Mr Turnbull remain PM.


Hello darkness my old friend.
Hello darkness my old friend.


The gang then put up a candidate, Peter Dutton, who had so much political baggage he would need a train of Sherpas to lug it around. Mr Dutton's heavy-handed performance as Home Affairs Minister has been starkly devalued.

As has the push to the hard right with its attacks, coded and otherwise, on immigration, Muslims, and the science of climate change. It might be a bonus for some that Dutton ally MP Craig Kelly will no longer be as frequent consulted on TV as a type of thought leader.

There is one area of dissent not resolved.

Tony Abbott will have had a personal victory with the removal of Mr Turnbull, an act of barely disguised revenge on his part.

The question is whether he will transfer his resentment to Mr Morrison, who is not an Abbott fan.

Mr Abbott showed resentment remained intense in a brief and surly comment to reporters in which he declined to name Mr Turnbull or congratulate Mr Morrison. It was brazen churlish.

Branded a "wrecker" by the outgoing leader, any future role for Mr Abbott will be contentious.

Does Mr Morrison put him in the ministry? Would that be seen as rewarding a "wrecker"? Would Mr Abbott agitation continue were he left on the back bench?

Meanwhile, a mystified public will be angry that a week of turmoil - in which most of cabinet quit and the House of Representatives was shut down, and nobody knew from day-to-day who was prime minister - was all about.

This will further feed the already profound mistrust and cynicism towards elected politicians and associated institutions.

And one of the first victims could be the Liberal Party itself.

For the fourth time in seven years a prime minister has been removed without the consent of voters.

Mr Morrison is the sixth PM since 2007 and if the Liberal Party does not repair itself, Labor's Bill Shorten will be the seventh after the election nearly next year.

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