This vote won’t resolve the Liberal Party conflict, it will only send it into a sequel. The vote for the spill had 82 people vote, which was passed 48/34. This caused a three-way leadership race between Turnbull, Abbott and Hockey where 84 people voted — Turnbull getting 26 votes, Abbott getting 35 votes and Hockey getting 23 votes. Hockey was eliminated and in the head-to-head there was 83 formal votes, with Abbott winning 42/41.

Someone in that final contest voted informal – making @timwattsau on Twitter quip “maybe someone just wrote ‘kill me’ on the ballot”. Apparently they actually wrote “No” on the ballot paper. “No” — WTF?

Fran Bailey was granted special leave from the meeting as she’s in hospital in Victoria with some ear infection and couldn’t fly —  however, Bailey wanted to put in a proxy vote but wasn’t allowed (there not being a capability for that apparently in the Liberal Party), yet she would have almost certainly voted for Turnbull.

Next week, two new members enter Parliament — Kelly O’Dwyer, from Higgins, and Paul Fletcher, from Bradfield, both almost certainly Turnbull supporters.

If the vote was held at the end of next week rather than today, the result would almost certainly have been 44/42 in favour of Turnbull — where even if the goose who wrote “No” on the ballot paper managed to borrow a few extra neurons and cast a formal vote, it wouldn’t have mattered because of the margin created by these three extra Turnbull votes.

Already, the moderates in the party are threatening complete dissent — the conflict in the Liberal party hasn’t been resolved, it has just started. This vote gave Abbott a win that he couldn’t have achieved a week later and every single one of the moderates know it.

Peter Fray

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