It was a dramatic day in Australian politics as the Liberal government dumped its leader, sitting Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and replaced him with Malcolm Turnbull who will be the new PM.
So just two years after leading his party to victory, Abbott is out. It’s sort of like firing the head coach two years after winning the Cup. Sounds a little familiar to me.
This type of party-leader backstabbing is in fact pretty common down there; the Labor Party got rid of Julia Gillard in similar fashion when she was Prime Minister and replaced her with ex-leader Kevin Rudd who Gillard had replaced three years before in a similar bloodbath.
But we haven’t seen much of this sort of thing up here in Canada, at least not with government parties. There was the time that Jean Chrétien was maneuvered out of office by Paul Martin, but that wasn’t done in an obvious off-with-his-head fashion like what’s gone on in Australia. Instead, it happened over a long period of time with some very public party infighting.
Still, at the end of it Chrétien at least was able to say he “retired”, even if it was really the Martin supporters who were responsible for retiring him. What the Liberals ought to have done is stab Chrétien in the back and get it over with, but instead they let it drag on and on and it really damaged party unity as a result.
As an aside, here in Canada the Conservatives have just recruited an Aussie politico to help rescue their campaign. If what happened in Australia today is any indication, the knives will really be out soon in this Canadian election race.