Thrills and Spills in Australia

These are rather interesting times in Australia, both at the federal and state and territorial level.

Federally, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a leadership spill motion on Monday morning (which corresponds to 17:00 Sunday EST). His party caucus is increasingly unhappy with some of the policy decisions Abbott has taken of late, and the party is not polling well at all. In Australia, party caucuses can vote to depose the party leader, which is called a spill. You may recall the previous spills under the Labor government: first Julia Gillard led an ouster of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, then in the following parliament, Rudd ousted Gillard. For more information about leadership spills in Australia, I recommend the following articles:

From ABC News: How a Liberal leadership spill would work

From the BBC: Australia’s coup culture (from 2013, so does not discuss the current situation facing Abbott) and Australian Politics: Why is it so tumultuous?

From Antony Green: How and Why Australian Prime Ministers Left Office

For some background on why Abbott is facing so much unrest: Tony Abbott’s stumbling blocks with voters

There has also been some excitement at the state/territory level.

Queensland General Election

The 2015 Queensland state election was held on 31 January 2015 to elect members of the Legislative Assembly.

The Liberal National Party (LNP), led by Premier Campbell Newman sought its second term after defeating Labor at the 2012 election in the largest defeat of a sitting government in Queensland history. The LNP won 78 of the Assembly’s 89 seats – the largest majority government in Queensland history – compared to seven for Labor, two for Katter’s Australian Party, and two won by independents. Although Labor hoped to regain much of what it lost in its severe defeat of three years earlier, most polls pointed to the LNP being returned for another term.

As of writing, eight days after the vote, final results are still not known, but Queensland Labor is on the brink of being named state election victor. with 45 seats required to form a majority government (that is including support from one Independent MP). Former Premier Newman lost his seat, and the LNP caucus has already selected a new leader, Lawrence Springborg, who has promised to deliver a “competent caretaker government”.

Northern Territory leadership spill

Meanwhile, on 2 February 2015, the Northern Territory’s First Minister, Adam Giles, was dumped by his caucus in a midnight spill.  According to media reports, the successful spill came after a phone hook-up late on Monday, the same day several of Mr Giles’s Country Liberals colleagues pledged their support for him as leader. The Primary Industries Minister Willem Westra van Holthe, held a brief press conference at 1:00am to announce he had seized control. However, political turmoil erupted when Giles announced that he wouldn’t resign.  After an emergency meeting of Country Liberals parliamentary members, Giles was confirmed as party leader and First Minister, while coup leader Westra van Holthe was appointed deputy leader.

What is really interesting in all of this is that all three events are related. The outcome of the Queensland election is attributed in no small part to the performance of the Liberal Party at the federal level, and the Northern Territory leadership spill is partly blamed on the outcome of the Queensland election.


Related Posts:

Radical Centrist