Back on November 24, 2015, James Massola published in the SMH, “Angry Liberal MPs question Tony Abbott ‘resistance movement’ and Monkey Pod lunches.” He detailed how a like-minded group of conservative MPs have been attending lunches on Tuesdays in parliamentary sitting weeks that are organised by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. The gatherings are being held in the so-called “Monkey Pod” meeting room.
“In the past fortnight, conservative MPs including Mr Abbott, Kevin Andrews, Andrew Nikolic and Michael Sukkar have spoken out on national security issues such as Mr Dutton’s exclusion from the national security committee and the need for Australia to consider “boots on the ground” in Syria. At the same time Mr Abbott, Mr Dutton, Mr Nikolic and Mr Sukkar all attended the latest lunch on Tuesday, with the former prime minister bringing cake for his colleagues. The quartet of conservatives were joined by fellow conservative MPs, senators and Abbott supporters Angus Taylor, Zed Seselja, Natasha Griggs, Craig Kelly and Ian Goodenough for the take-away meal.”
Hidden behind its paywall, sometime in mid-December, 2015, the Australian carried an article headlined “Abbott said he would not make a decision on his political future until April 2016“.
There is a bit of a flurry on Twitter at the moment. Derek Rollins, @derekdownunder, tweeted on January 15th, 2016, “Story out of Canberra Abbott working hard possible spill Easter ,if they can’t win will split Liberals ,with new conservative party.” This has created that flurry under the “Auspol” hashtag.
So, from November 2015, we have Abbott meeting with a small group of Libs on a regular basis. In December 2015 we have Abbott saying he will not make a decision on his future until April 2016 and now we have a rumour about a spill attempt around the end of March 2016. It is all coming together.
There were 44 members of the Liberal Party who voted for Abbott in the Turnbull spill back in September, but how many would follow their ex-leader into a new party in April?
I would suggest that around half of the Abbott votes would have swung quickly to Turnbull. So we have 22 potential “Abbott Liberals” left.
By the time all the implications sink in, perhaps a half of those will chicken out. Leaving around 11 members forming a new party under Abbott.
Who are they? A high proportion would come from this list of the “Monkey Pod attendees”; Senators Cory Bernardi, Eric Abetz, and Zed Seselja; and Ms.P.; Kevin Andrews, Craig Kelly, Ian Goodenough, Peter Dutton, Andrew Nikolic, Michael Sukkar, Angus Taylor and Natasha Griggs.
All very unlikely but a quick look at some consequences is interesting.
Firstly it would mean five major parties sitting in the Parliament and Turnbull, as Liberal and Coalition Leader would still command a majority. Take away eight of the HoR votes and it leaves the Government with 82 votes on the floor of the House. The Senate becomes more problematic with three less Government votes and three more cross-benchers. The Government would need NINE non-government votes to pass legislation.
Secondly we could see almost all members of the “Abbott Liberals” ousted at the next election. This would depend on the outside support the new group could gain. Not voters, directly, but their links into the money stream. How many billionaires are likely to support their dumped Golden Boy? I would not be surprised if one or two do choose to do just that. That sort of money can buy a lot of votes!
But we should not discourage a free-enterprise political suicide mission. Not even from a man who promised that he would NEVER white-ant his party.
The breaking of that promise will cause fall-out which will only benefit our Nation.