Malcolm Turnbull needs to have a showdown with Abbott sooner or later. Tony Abbott has been spoiling for a fight since his ignominious dumping from the prime ministership.
And he still thinks he is popular enough within the party and in the electorate have a chance of winning his old job back. He’s not and he won’t.
A showdown over marriage equality would have immense political and symbolic value for Turnbull particularly if he were to win. And the chances are he would.
And he needs a Gary Cooper moment.
It’s time for him to roll the dice. There are a whole range of factors that make this a very good time to do just that.
He is on a hiding to nothing in the polls. Shorten is probably going to win the next election.
So here are the arguments in favour of taking a stand.
- Seventy percent of Australians want marriage equality. It would be an immensely popular move on his part.
- He can call Shorten’s bluff and possibly wedge the Labor leader in his own party over the issue.
- If he calls for a conscience vote, he’s probably got the numbers on the floor of the House of Representatives.
- He may also strengthened his hand against the right within the Coalition.
- He can make Marriage Quality a test of his leadership, “If I’m not Prime Minister, I will resign from Parliament. “The electors of Wentworth can than decide on the Prime Ministership of Tony Abbott”
- And if he wants to go out in a cloud of glory, he could cross the floor and vote with the opposition in support of marriage equality.
But don’t hold your breath.