PM on the rocks: Abbott's insider revolt and Fairfax's fun

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How long can a leader survive once the braying press pack get a sniff of blood?

And so it begins, that familiar trope, leadership speculation — this time about Tony Abbott's stumbling prime ministership based on complaints from inside the Liberal Party. Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones reports.

Officer is a suburb way, way out on the south-east fringe of the Melbourne metropolitan sprawl. One of its few claims to fame is that a conjoined bearded dragon once hatched within its civic boundaries.

Another is that it is home to one Andrew McNabb, hard-core liberal party member for 11 years and the kind of bloke who refers to Gillard as Juliar. All class.

Andy was a fan of the most recent Liberal loser Denis Napthine and was no doubt shocked, hurt, humiliated and generally downcast when Denis pulled off the impossible by throwing away what should have been a 10-year electoral advantage in a flurry of incompetence.

Andy is naturally concerned about the antics of Their Tony in this regard. No problem about core Coalition policies — just that Abbott could neither promote nor run a chook raffle.

So when OTT went on Melbourne’s 3AW talkback radio on Thursday 22 January, Andy picked up the phone to give him a gobful. A lot of people would have dialled in to speak with the PM but Andy, for whatever reason, was one of the lucky few accepted.

That should have been that. The few 3AW listeners would have heard a nobody from outer Melbourne lambast the imposter. Nothing new there.

3AW is owned by Fairfax Media, the same organisation that meekly followed News Ltd’s shadow and editorial leads in the Gillard years. The same organisation that gives column inches to Peter Reith and Gerard Henderson.

Fairfax owns The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald and a few other sundry mastheads.

Andy hardly had time to hang-up before Fairfax ran the McNabb story on its website on 22 January:

'World's worst salesman': Liberal voter confronts Tony Abbott during radio interview

The next day, Friday 23 January, The Sydney Morning Herald front page splashed (see image at top of page): 

Stick with me, Abbott pleads

The copy, written by Grant McKenna and James Massolo, gave the McNabb interview prominence, calling his comments a

‘... withering assessment of his [Abbott’s] performance.'

Happy with his new-found fame and just possibly encouraged by 3AW, Andy rang the station again on Friday. This time he called for the Englishman to step aside for someone more credible — Julie Bishop, say. And Turnbull for Treasurer.

Fairfax duly, breathlessly – almost immediately – reported Andy’s insights:

'Liberal voter Andrew McNabb makes second attack on 'world's worst salesman' Tony Abbott'

Mr McNabb hit the airwaves again on Friday, telling Fairfax radio station 3AW it was time for a change in leader.

He said the Government should make a leadership change as soon as Parliament returns, and it should be Julie Bishop who replaces Mr Abbott, with Malcolm Turnbull as treasurer.

That’s it then. Andy from Officer has spoken. A bit like Paul the World Cup octopus. It’s to be the Julie and Malcolm show. Tell that to Scott Morrison.

No other media organisation found Andy’s thoughts – or 3AW – worth mentioning, so all those who consume their news with an egg and bacon McMuffin were none the wiser.

So, Fairfax is cross-promoting Fairfax and what’s wrong with that? Nothing, providing it’s not a gratuitous beat up.

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