Nothing happened in Canberra this morning. Nothing in a Samuel Beckett sort of way. A nothing that means plenty. A nothing that is quite profound.

It was worse for us in the media. We spent two and half hours quarantined in a lobby outside the House of Representatives Chamber, watched over by the Serjeant-at-Arms, waiting. There were occasional burst of camera motors. TV lights would suddenly go on. All false alarms.

No Chaser boys relieved the tedium. A Today Tonight journo asked a few heavies a few questions, then wisely concluded it was all like Seinfeld .

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The bells rang for a division in the Reps. The Members filed past as they went into vote. Bill Heffernan appeared. “You’re all going to be very disappointed,” he said. The Members filed past again and back to the Party Room.

Paul Bongiorno peered over a balcony one level up, grinned, and walked away. Alexander Downer went past, followed moments later by Malcolm Turnbull. A funny ringtone sounded. We laughed. “F-ck this!” one of the bigger guns exclaimed.

Finally, at 12:45, Tony Abbott appeared. There had been “full and frank discussions”, he said, but there was “absolutely rock solid support for the Prime Minister”.

Nothing happened in Canberra this morning. Nothing happened because all the damage is already done. The opportunity for a circuit breaker – a change of leadership – is gone.

The issue has been handled abysmally by Cabinet members. Cabinet members who used to like to talk of ticker tests. It’s also been handled abysmally by the Prime Minister. Why did he ask for soundings if he had no intention of acting on them?

“Nobody has behaved in a disloyal fashion towards me,” he’s said today. Nothing’s happened because nothing can be done.

It shown in all this week’s television appearances. The John Howard and his Ministers have been flat. Pale. All the fight has gone out of them. You can hear it in their voices.

Nothing happened in Canberra this morning. Plenty will happen to the Government as a result.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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