Government ministers are dropping like flies and Malcolm Turnbull won’t be far behind them. But how long will it take? And what power is held by the Liberal Party’s women?
Deputy Prime Minister Julie Bishop may indeed be the PM’s closest ally right now. She put to rest any suggestion she could challenge the leadership this morning, telling Channel 7’s Sunrise that she was not “considering or canvassing” the option.
“I have a job as Foreign Minister and the most important job as the member for Curtin, and that is where I am focusing all of my energy and attention,” she later told Nine.
It’s a line she’s steadfastly maintained throughout her tenure and though many would welcome her foot in the race, Bishop’s loyalty is surely a beacon of hope for the Prime Minister. Yesterday, during the leadership spill, she refused to even rule out quitting the front bench if Dutton emerged victorious.
Since yesterday, nine frontbenchers have reportedly offered their resignations to Malcolm Turnbull including Human Services Minister, Michael Keenan, Health Minister, Greg Hunt and Trade Minister, Steve Ciobo (though these are yet to be accepted by the PM). Peter Dutton moved to the backbench despite failing to rule out a subsequent leadership challenge.
But of all the Ministers farewelling the circus (at least for now), only one woman made the list: International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.
In a publicly released letter, Fierravanti-Wells accused the Government of straying too far to the left, saying “our conservative base strongly feel that their voice has been eroded”.
She reaffirmed her support of Peter Dutton saying she believed his leadership “would have been an important move for stability and would help to neutralise some of the more strident criticism.”
So far, no other Liberal Party women have spoken out or rallied behind a change of leadership. Like the majority of Australians, they probably fear the faintest prospect of Peter Dutton in the front seat.
Irrespective, their loyalty to Turnbull should give him pause to consider what might have been, had he appointed and retained more women to his cabinet and ministry in the first place.
Resignations so far:
- Human Services Minister Michael Keenan. Offered resignation, but issued a later statement of support for the Prime Minister.
- Trade Minister Steve Ciobo. Offered resignation, not accepted. Later issued a call for party unity.
- Health Minister Greg Hunt. His resignation was not accepted.
- Cybersecurity Minister Angus Taylor. Resignation not accepted.
- Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge. Resignation not accepted.
- Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar. Resignation not accepted.
- Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister James McGrath. Resignation not accepted.
- Assistant Science, Jobs and Innovation Minister Zed Seselja. Resignation not accepted.