Just before Crikey went to press, outgoing prime minister Tony Abbott finally fronted Australian voters about last night’s Liberal leadership coup.
Abbott’s speech was a long time coming, but gracious. “My pledge is to make this change as easy as I can,” he said. “There will be no wrecking, no undermining and no sniping”. But he did take a swipe at “sour” commentary and polls, and slammed a “febrile” media environment that “rewards treachery”.
In fact, Abbott only has himself to blame for today. As Bernard Keane writes, Abbott had everything a PM could hope for when he took government just over two years ago: a fractured and in-fighting opposition, the support of our most powerful news organisation, and a convincing election win.
He squandered it with his relentless negativity, his insistence on waging a nasty and mostly obscure culture war at the behest of the minority far right, and his lack of a coherent vision.
We welcome last night’s election of Malcolm Turnbull as Liberal leader and Prime Minister. Not because we endorse all of his policy positions — we certainly don’t — but because we believe he has the capacity to legislate and govern, and that Abbott had lost it.
Yesterday afternoon when he announced he would challenge, Turnbull pledged to “respect the intelligence of the Australian people”.
“We need … a style of leadership that respects the people’s intelligence, that explains these complex issues, and then sets out the course of action we believe we should take, and makes a case for it. We need advocacy, not slogans.”
Advocacy, not slogans? Now that’s a three-word slogan we can get behind. We look forward to participating in some real, intelligent, forward-looking debates about the future of this country under the Turnbull government.