It’s probably fair to say that there are more knives out in the Abbott Cabinet then there were at the assassination of Julius Caesar
The difficulty is working out who are going to be the stabbers and who are going to be the stabbed. At present it looks as if the right is positioning their darling, Scott Morrison for a tilt at the leadership. But the current machinations could just as easily be being orchestrated by the moderates in the party. (This is slightly less likely as part of the negotiations appear to involve dumping Hockey who was a moderate)
But it looks like like some of the lean and hungry men have Joe Hockey in their sights.
Word from Canberra has it that a poor performance by the Libs in the Canning by-election will see a move to shift Hockey out of the Treasury portfolio. apparently this has been discussed with Tony Abbott who (naturally) knows nothing about it and says that the Treasurer has his “full confidence”.
It’s interesting that a “poor performance” is defined as swing of 6%, roughly the amount the Liberals trail the Labor Party in the polls. Early indications are that its level pegging which means a swing of between 10-11%. So by definition there will be a move against Hockey.
It’s been an interesting softening up process and the Treasurer has been manoeuvred into an untenable position, presumably by the right and the supporters of Scott Morrison who is tipped to take his place.
Unless there is some kind of miracle, there will be a swing of around about 10% which may or may not lead to the Liberals losing the seat but, if translated to a national level, would mean a landslide of devastating proportions in the next federal election.
There are a large number of Liberal MPs who will be facing the reality of not being returned to Canberra if the opinion polls are correct and the swing in Canning is repeated. They must realise that something drastic will need to be done to ensure their re-election and replacing Joe Hockey is probably not going to be drastic enough.
So, at present it looks like the deal that has been put to Abbott is: A loss of 6% and you have to dump Hockey. A loss of significantly more than 6% and you have to go. In either case, the replacement will be Scott Morrison.
What this does is position a member of the right to take over from Abbott if things get worse (and they are probably expecting them to). It also has the huge attraction of pre-empting any bid by Malcolm Turnbull for the Prime Ministership.