The events of last night could signal the end of a bloody era, but the challenges aren’t over.
As Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull must tread a careful path between what is expected of him, what is right, and what is feasible, writes Annabel Crabb…
What happened last night is hard to write about concisely.
The events are so momentous; the removal of the third serving Australian Prime Minister inside five years, the defection of a deputy leader, the likely end of a Treasurer, the election of history’s first prime minister for whom elevation to the nation’s highest office will involve downsizing to a smaller house… Honestly, I could go on indefinitely.
And today will no doubt bring plenty of aftershocks.
But in the small hours, it’s worth noting that of the three leaders who formed the cast for Australia’s ugliest and most vicious three-pointed scrabble for power in recent memory – Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott – Mr Abbott last night became the third and final to meet a violent political end.
Of all the aphorisms that have sprung to mind in recent years, perhaps the most powerful is: “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
And of that mad period between 2010 and 2013 – when Mr Abbott barely slept, nerves a-twanging for the opportunity to annexe one or two extra votes to become prime minister, and Mr Rudd stalked the landscape like a headless horseman, and Ms Gillard clung on for dear life – none of the protagonists now remain. All of them – Abbott, Gillard and Rudd – have been both victims and perpetrators at different points, and each of them is now finished.
It is, or could be, the end of a bloody era.
The new Prime Minister is someone who authored the closest thing we’ve had in a decade to a grand bipartisan bargain between the major parties; don’t forget that in 2009, seconds before he was dumped as leader by one vote, Mr Turnbull was ready to sign a deal with Mr Rudd to legislate an emissions trading scheme.