Abbott is leaving the front bench of the Coalition, it’s reported, so that he can vote against the ETS bill. It’s expected that the shadow cabinet tow the line with the leader. By opting out of the cabinet, Abbott is free to vote how he wants. And he wants the leadership of the Liberals. So, by positioning himself as the opposite of Turnbull and his faction within the party (which I expect Hockey is a part of), he is the clear alternative to that wing.
Turnbull was making a statement at 5:15pm. That was half an hour ago, so I expect the wires to go into meltdown soon.
My post on the reshuffle of the shadow cabinet, written yesterday, still applies. It’s got a new update. Check it out here.
Update: Tony Abbott, it’s just broken into the coverage of the cricket (so it must be important!), has resigned from the front bench. Either word got to him it was resign or be pushed or he’s planning to usurp from the back benches. So much for being the loyal guy that he is.
With this, I expect Nick Minchin will step down as leader in the Senate. If he doesn’t, it will be very interesting to see what happens. If the cabinet is expect to tow the pro-vote line, then he should step down. Or he will be forced out. Abbott has provided a precedence for booting cabinet members who don’t vote for the ETS now.
Turnbull can’t take a break, can he? What else can happen in the next week? Turnbull isn’t budging from his position, and is standing tough. But tough enough? He can’t flip-flop here, otherwise he will (if it’s possible) fall further into the political abyss. At least if he maintains his position here, he will have some credibility at least among his supporters. If he changes, watch Hockey firm up (though, much like Turnbull, far too early) as the favourite of that faction.