The ship of state goes sailing on, braving choppy waters as opinion polls rise and fall.

Captain Howard remains steadfast at the wheel. Peter the Purser goes about his task. But below in the boiler-room, well… There’s mutinous talk.

The great strength of the Howard Government has been its unity, its lack of dissent. Now, senior staff are openly saying that they’re done for. They are saying that if the next couple of Newspolls are bad, the PM will have to go.

It’s not so much what they’re saying that is significant. It’s the fact that they are saying it.

As the prospect of defeat looms, discipline – the government’s greatest strength – is fraying.

Senior staff who should be working to keep their jobs are instead wasting time thinking aloud about defeat.

And mutiny is looming. The citizenship testing legislation is due to be debated next week. Petro Georgiou won’t support it. And since he’s stepping down, Bruce Baird may decide he has nothing to lose over the issue, either.

Choppy waters and navigational hazards loom ahead for those on the bridge of the ship of state. Their petty officers are distracted. And things aren’t going well below decks.

No iceberg is needed for disaster.