Turnbull, Abbott and the Pope

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(Image via @TheAviator1992)

It’s a little hard to judge these things. But it’s likely, not certain, that Abbott won’t be Prime Minister by Friday and Malcolm Turnbull will.

Malcolm I’ve known since 1973, Tony since 1994. Malcolm is furious and Tony, from what I know of him, is breaking up and like an iceberg cascading into the sea. Malcolm is daily proclaiming what the Constitution is and bemoaning the difficulty he is in convincing the Cabinet, or some fraction of the Cabinet, of this. He is looking, I think, for a cause to resign, tempt Julie Bishop into a spill and win the leadership on the second ballot.

I say this because Abbott has become, of late, the political equivalent of the Loaded Dog. You can’t take him anywhere. Just this week, he has insulted and enraged Indonesia, who may break off relations soon, by cutting off aid money to them and then sending expensive refugees, who want to be in New Zealand, into their care. He’s bribed some people smugglers and imprisoned others for ten or 20 years, erratically. He’s chosen the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta to erode its principal provision, of trial by jury, before the gaoling or banishment of any citizen. He’s said Bret Walker advised him to do this, then – after Bret said he hadn’t –claimed "Bret changed his mind". He’s let a breastfed baby begin to die.

He’s said that Labor is "rolling out the red carpet" for terrorists, though Labor wants to arrest and imprison them, and he wants them to stay in Syria, flinging bombs at our side, or in Iraq, flinging bombs at Australians. He cannot any longer say anything in Question Time that is not an exaggeration or a lie.

And he’s now in conflict with the Pope, on what another eminent person once called "the greatest moral issue of our time". The Pope wants to save the Earth, and Abbott doesn’t care about it. He thinks Big Coal is Australia’s future and wind farms are noisy and ugly, and should never have been encouraged.

In this, he is in disagreement with six billion people — most of the world.

It’s unlikely he won votes with any of these measures or utterances. Morgan, the accurate poll, before he made them, had him losing 45 seats. And it’s likely if he takes on the Pope he will lose five more.

Can Abbott survive the week? Well, Howard hung on for nine months, when similarly detested, in 2007.

But this was mainly because Costello dared not strike. And Howard had full coffers he could lavish on the middle classes. And Howard was never so intellectually despised.

It’s different now, I think. Abbott is a figure of fun on American television and at most Asian embassy parties. He’s lifted all protective tariffs, destroyed the car industry and thrown the local economies of every country town to the wolves. He’s brought down budgets that offend his base – the old – his last bastion, and promises no surpluses in his lifetime. He abolished gay marriage in the ACT and now wants it to be "de-politicised".

And the dementia pugilistica theory of his behaviour has gained credence.

And now the Pope is coming after him.

It may be he can get through next week. But the 45 MPs who will lose their seats if he stays on will be thinking hard.

And we will see what we shall see.

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