Tony Abbott, June 24, 2010: “A midnight knock on the door followed by political execution is no way that the Australian Prime Minister should be treated.”

Tony Abbott, June 25, 2010: “Oh, sure. It’s a magnificent thing to assume the highest office, elected office, in the land, although she hasn’t actually been elected by the people … ”

Tony Abbott, July 23, 2010: “I don’t think the public are going to be conned again. I mean, we’ve seen right around Australia bad Labor governments change their leader and say, look, we’re all going to be different now. It’s never different. It’s just the same.”

Tony Abbott, March 6, 2013: “I congratulate Denis Napthine on his election as leader of the Victorian parliamentary Liberal Party and I look forward to working closely with him.”

Well, well. It seems a good government has lost its way.

So we have another first-term leader shown the door by their partyroom — this time in Victoria. The difference to Abbott? This government is a Liberal one.

There may be a significant difference between the demotion of ex-premier Ted Baillieu and ex-PM Kevin Rudd — it may be that Baillieu really was ready to walk, as party hacks are trying to tell us. At this stage we don’t really know how events unfolded inside yesterday’s dramatic party room meeting. Did a rival do the numbers? Was Baillieu told to go? Did he lose the support of a key ally?

But we know this: Julia Gillard has spent almost three years dealing with extensive criticism from the Liberals, the conservative commentariat and a sizeable chunk of the public over how she took over from Rudd. That’s fair enough. But now the shoe’s on the other foot, and the Liberals have questions to answer. The answers given so far, by Baillieu and Napthine, just don’t cut it.

We’ll leave you with one more Abbott quote, from his rather subdued press conference this morning:

“There is a world of difference between what happened to Ted Baillieu and what happened to the Labor party a few years ago … Ted resigned. … There is no comparison.”

Politics is a dirty business, for all parties.