It’s on! After months (and years) of speculation, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has resigned from cabinet and challenged Prime Minister Tony Abbott to a leadership ballot.
Turnbull approached Abbott shortly after Question Time this afternoon to request the ballot, and told reporters the “course of action” had come at the urging of many of those in his own party.
Abbott is expected to respond within the hour.
Turnbull said it’s clear the government is unsuccessful and that Abbott has failed to provide the “economic leadership” Australia needs.
And that if Abbott continues, he’ll be succeeded in the top job by Labor leader Bill Shorter.
Turnbull added the Australian people deserve a new style of leadership that “respects the people’s intelligence”. One that explains complex issues, but sets a course of action. “We need advocacy not slogans,” he said.
So does Turnbull have the numbers? Political editor Bernard Keane over at Women’s Agenda sister publication Crikey says we won’t know until the party room meeting, speculated for tomorrow, but that: One source tells Crikey Turnbull has had the numbers for some time, possibly a matter of weeks.
Kean’s also written that Abbott needs to go, for the sake of the nation:
Abbott’s political incompetence and that of his office are, even for senior colleagues, indistinguishable from the actions of a leader bent on harming the national interest and the interests of his own political party. Until recently, it has merely been a case of not doing anything: economic reform has ground to a halt, action to reduce the deficit has been abandoned, difficult policy issues are withheld from cabinet consideration out of fear that the splits between ministers will become media fodder. Now, Abbott appears downright dangerous — apparently eager to use national security and our military as political playthings and willing to consider leading his party into a snap election trailing by a huge margin (and with an unreformed Senate voting process likely to produce a huge crossbench).
See more from the Crikey liveblog here.