Written by Felicity Ward

In The News

All Thriller, No Spiller

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott survived a leadership “spill” this week. Comedian Felicity Ward shares her thoughts. And excitement.

Tony Abbott and his Ministry leave his swearing-in ceremony. Picture by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a riveting week for Australian politics; I’ve mildly jeopardised my relationship compulsively following the current crisis of faith in “our leader.” No, I’m not talking about Jesus, although Tony Abbott’s nickname is The Mad Monk. (Don’t you just love it when Australia fulfils stereotypes? Of course our Prime Minister has a “crazy” nickname, otherwise people might start taking us seriously.)

As you may have discovered in the past 18 months, Abbott is a bit of dick. This was just personal opinion until members of his own party (the ironically named Liberal Party) appeared on national television to express that the Prime Minister no longer had their support.

So everyone has had a gutful.

You see, T-Bone’s been living up to his nickname since he’s been in power. Among other things: he decided to reinstate dames and knights in Australia; he took time to address the G20 summit to boast about abolishing our emissions trading scheme when the rest of the world are working toward climate change solutions; and he (kind of) physically threatened Vladimir Putin over the Malaysian Airline crash.

But the cherry on the cake was deciding, without counsel from his party, to award a knighthood to the one and only Prince Phillip. Yup. He awarded a member of the British Monarchy a knighthood for a life of “service and dedication” -and no doubt for his tactful choice of phrase and action.
Our PM, consistently acting upon his own advice, has gone a little bit…well…mad. If only he’d slash his prices like they do on the adverts!

This came to a head when a “spill” was called last week, following the public “unfriending” by his Liberal backbenchers. The party called to vote again on Abbott as their leader and, in turn, ours. But despite Bro-ny Abbott declaring he was listening to his party and learning from his mistakes, he then fast-tracked the vote to Monday morning. You know, like no one else asked for or wanted. #progress

Why does the word “spill” ring a bell when discussing Australian politics? Because in the last three years we’ve had more spills than an octopus in a drinking contest.

A few years ago, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd got a little bit megalomaniacal and his party staged a takeover. There was a spill, a challenge by another Labor party member – Julia Gillard – and overnight we had a new Prime Minister. Kevin Rudd then challenged Prime Minister Julia Gillard three times in the next six months, which was fabulous for harmony, unity and confidence.

He eventually won and it essentially destroyed faith in the Labor Party, amid a slew of poor decisions. At the time, the Liberals lambasted them at every opportunity over their disunity. And they were right; it was a total shitstorm. Two years down the track the Liberal Party are taking every move from Labor’s playbook, bar having someone actually challenge the leadership.

So, on Sunday night (UK time), the party went in. Abbott survived by 61 votes to 39. That’s not a great position to be in: just enough party confidence to stay leader.

Chances are, Abbott won’t last his full term. Either way, I’m getting the popcorn. This is better than Netflix.

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Written by Felicity Ward

Felicity Ward is an Australian comedian, writer, actor and full time knucklehead, based in the UK.