Malcolm Turnbull has an outside chance of toppling Tony Abbott for the leadership of the Coalition and for a shot at being elected Prime Minister. During his time downed from the Coalition leadership Mr Turnbull has become more popular with Australian voters than he was while leader.
There seems a sense of certainty that Mr Abbott will be leading the Coalition on election day but we are now used to changing political landscapes.
Mr Turnbull has become increasingly popular with marginal voters and increasingly more popular with the broad Australian electorate. He is seen by many as Prime Ministerial material. The ALP has also inadvertently built up his reputation by describing him as a person of various convictions and principles.
One Labor insider said, “We’ve been pretty dumb in building Malcolm up, this could come back to do us in.”
Mr Turnbull has done a Kevin Rudd and effectively sold himself as an alternate leader to the incumbent – Mr Abbott. He has done it though with a certain sense of dignity and panache and without the high dramas of the Mr Rudd verse Ms Gillard theatre.
Some Liberal insiders said that they are concerned about the advantage they have lost over the ALP and that they want to regain it. They believe that Mr Turnbull can deliver it, and surprisingly they refused to rule out a leadership change in the weeks ahead.
“We need to govern as a majority force and not to be reduced to needing to do deals here and there or to beg.”
“Tony has done the job building an advantage for us that Malcolm had not done while he was leader but if it takes Malcolm now to capitalise for us on Tony’s good work then that’s what should happen, and Malcolm should lead!”
“But how do we catalyse the change? This is not exactly clear and we are not about to tear ourselves apart in panic, but we must consider the opportunity. Only problem is that for some of us it may seem too close to the election to do the swap.”
“A leadership ballot should tip Malcolm’s way, so if he brought on he’d get it – but at what cost? This is why we need to consider the best way to go about proposing a change of leader, not brutally,” said the Liberal insider.
Today, Mr Turnbull said that he knows many people would prefer he led the Liberal party.
But in a very Rudd-like way he said that they should vote for the Liberal party nevertheless because “he will be part of it.”
Like Mr Rudd did on several occasions he ruled out “a tilt” at the leadership despite the polls showing that he would be a more popular leader than Tony Abbott.
“Tony has all the Coalition voters rounded up, but what he hasn’t now, that he had against Julia (Gillard), are the marginal voters and a Malcolm Turnbull can return them to us, and probably a few more.”
“What Malcolm can also achieve for us is that landslide victory, and he can pull in even long time Labor and Greens voters – and without losing us our voting base on some of the big issues that had some of our voting base concerned with his policies (when he was leader). Times have changed and there’s more sense about climate change. Our problem will be the hard-headed extremists within our party (Dennis Jensen, Cory Bernardi and others). But I am sure we can pull together to ensure the landslide,” said the insider.
Mr Turnbull told today’s Nine Network Financial Review, “There are a lot of people out there who would rather I was leading the Liberal Party. It is ridiculous to deny that that is not happening.”
“If they think I am a person of capability and quality and so forth, they should be comforted by the fact that I am part of that team in a senior leadership position.”
He said that his fans should vote for Tony Abbott because he will be seated with Mr Abbott at “the top table.”
He was toppled by Mr Abbott by one vote in December 2009.
On June 17, a high profile ALP insider told The Stringer “that as long as Mr Abbott leads the Coalition the ALP ‘is in with a chance’. The member said that this remains the case unless Malcolm Turnbull takes over the leadership ‘all of a sudden and then the horse will have bolted.'”
“If the Coalition wanted to destroy us to just a remnant of ourselves they would install Malcolm as their leader. It would be a landslide victory to them. Too many of our members have been talking about him publicly as a knight in shining armour and if he were to lead we’d be ruined at this election,” said our insider, June 17.
The weeks ahead, and once again the polls, will speak. Mr Turnbull may have the numbers to win the ballot but will there be the opportunity for a ballot?
Rudd will become Prime Minister. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will reclaim the Office of the Prime Minister from Prime Minister Julia Gillard within several hours. Bill Shorten will commit his support to Kevin Rudd. The Deputy Leadership will be fought out between Anthony Albanese and Simon Crean.