Following a two weeks of turbulence after awarding the Duke of Edinburgh a knighthood, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has received a boost from the Liberal Party’s Deputy Leader as he prepares to face his colleagues in a leadership coup, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
In a swipe at backbenchers who called for the spill motion, Mr Abbott told media the two men who proposed and seconded the motion were “perfectly entitled” to call for the vote but added, “But the next point to make is they are asking the party room to vote out the people that the electorate voted in September 2013.”
And he carefully tried to link the troublemakers with the endless infighting which marred the previous government.
“I want to make this very simple point: we are not the Labor Party, we are not the Labor Party and we are not going to repeat the chaos and the instability of the Labor years,” he said.
“So I have spoken to deputy leader Julie Bishop and we will stand together in urging the party room to defeat this particular motion.”
Mr Abbott said voting against the motion would be a “vote in favour of stability and the team that the people voted for at the election”.
He was backed up by Ministers, including Defence Minister Kevin Andrews who said his vote against the motion would “differentiate” the Liberal Party against the chaos of the Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard years.
And Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News, “On Tuesday there will be a vote which will clear the air. Those of us who support Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop will vote to defeat the spill motion, that is what I’m urging all of my colleagues to do.”
“This is a once and only decision…I think this would be a disaster for the party and a disaster for Australia,” he said.
A phrase presently gaining traction in Australia is that the nation is gripped by ‘smartphone politics’, so called because of the speed with which modern mobile phone handsets become obsolete and are replaced.
In the email to Liberal MPs and senators the proposer of the motion, Luke Simpkins said he had been inundated with emails and visits to his electorate office in the past two weeks questioning the government’s direction.
He said Abbott’s decision to grant Prince Philip a knighthood on Australia Day “was for many the final proof of a disconnection with the people”.
Mr Simpkins said voters had stopped listening to the Prime Minister and he was no longer capable of leading.
But others have called the attack into question the motivation behind the coup, saying that bestowing a Knighthood on a man who has worked tirelessly for charities and fought for the Australia his whole adult life and well beyond ordinary retirement age does not symbolise any disconnect.
As a young Greek prince the Duke of Edinburgh volunteered for the Royal Navy, serving along side Australians in battle and later served on the Sydney and Manus based Commonwealth fleet. His Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has been extremely popular in the country, benefiting more than 700,000 young Australians. And he has even joined in fighting a bush fire.
He surely, writes David Flint in the Spectator, ‘fulfils the criteria ‘extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit in service to Australia or to humanity at large.’
It has been suggested this motion to unseat the prime minister of Australia is an attack by the left wing elite who will not forgive Abbott for repealing the CO2 tax and taking firm action against immigration and asylum. They object to him stopping the funding of their lifestyles by piling debt on future generations and have taken to their laptops and twitter accounts to denounce the soundly right wing Prime Minister, using the knighthood as an excuse.
But the man behind the coup is no stranger himself to controversy, being one of only four coalition MPs who boycotted the 2008 apology to the Stolen Generations. Officials within the Liberal party say he has mooted the argument that if the situation with the children of Aborigines became serious again, the state could legitimately take them away from their families.
And he was openly mocked for giving a speech in Parliament saying Australians were unknowingly being converted to Islam by eating Halal meat.
“By having Australians unwittingly eating Halal food we are all one step down the path towards the conversion, and that is a step we should only make with full knowledge and one that should not be imposed upon us without us knowing,” Mr Simpkins told Parliament.