Open War in the LNP Your Seatbelts: Leadership Spill Is On
Dutton prepares to challenge: Bishop will stand against him

Things are moving apace in the Liberal National Coalition. Peter Dutton is running the numbers ahead of a planned challenge for the leadership next week, according to Canberra insiders.

His decision to move was allegedly triggered by the refusal of members agitating for free vote on equal marriage to back down and give his postal ‘plebiscite’ plan a clear run.

Numbers are looking so poor for Malcolm Turnbull that Julie Bishop is cutting her Philippines visit in half to stand against Dutton. She will throw her hat in the ring as the moderate candidate against Dutton. She is by far preferred by the voters, but Dutton is confident he will win in the party room.

Tony Abbott is described as “incredibly chuffed”. “Turnbull must not at any cost get to two years from his perspective,” I was told. Meanwhile the PM continues to front the cameras wearing the pained expression of a man sliding down a razor blade using his balls for brakes.

Barnaby Joyce insists the party room meeting Tuesday must be a stacked-out joint meeting including the Nationals. The leadership will put a proposal for a postal vote to the meeting: the moderates will move a motion for a free vote on Sen Dean Smith’s marriage bill.

All hope of compromise has evaporated: “It’s full on factional warfare now the moderates have refused to blink,” said a sad, angry and frustrated source. Warren Entsch is said to be “ready to kneecap some of the c-nts” making threats to him and other moderates.

With no-one prepared to back down without a fight, feelings on all sides are running high, with little thought being given to the optics of the situation, or the probable electoral fallout of such a sharp lurch to the extreme right.

Some of Dutton’s backers have been threatening to defect if they don’t get their way. If Dutton succeeds, there may well be some in the party who will consider likewise “doing a Cory” and establishing a breakaway party, but of the centre. Whatever happens, we’re in for a prolonged bout of unstable government.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)