Triumph of the spill

A relatively bloodless year in Australian politics stands to be interrupted by a conservative spill motion against Gladys Berejiklian over abortion reform, quixotic as it may appear.

Three of the principal Liberal Party dissidents against Gladys Berejiklian’s handling of a conscience vote on abortion law reform, Mulgoa MP Tanya Davies and upper house members Matthew Mason-Cox and Lou Amato, have announced they will move a spill motion against her leadership tomorrow, despite not having an alternative contender to line up behind. The Australian reports the rebels believe they will get the support of between 15 and 20 members of the 46-member party room, but the press gallery consensus on Twitter is that this is highly optimistic. The leader of the Nationals, John Barilaro, has taken to Twitter to denounce the motion as “ridiculous”, noting that the party’s coalition agreement is with Berejiklian personally.

The bill is sponsored by independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich but is the subject of a Liberal Party conscience vote, in which Berejiklian has been among the minor of party representatives in favour. There have been suggestions that Davies and Riverstone MP Kevin Conolly would walk out of the party in protest, which would cost the government its bare majority. However, Conolly does not appear to have signed on for the spill motion. Developing …

UPDATE: The spill was called off early this morning, ostensibly because the rebels had been offered concessions on the abortion bill, although a source quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald flatly denied this, offering that “we don’t negotiate with terrorists”. Another (or perhaps the same one) later said the spill was called off because they “couldn’t get more than three votes”. It seems the rebels had been hoping on a secret ballot, and recognised they would find few if any takers for a vote conducted on a show of hands. There has been a prompt return to business as usual in New South Wales politics, with the spill move passing unremarked at this morning’s party room meeting, and Sports Minister John Sidoti standing aside in the afternoon pending an ICAC investigation.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

39 comments on “Triumph of the spill”

  1. Of all the issues to choose, this would have be the worst. More than 80% of NSW voters will be hoping Berejiklian wins and wins easily. What is it with the NSW Liberals?

  2. I’ve mixed feelings about abortion. With so many ways to abort, why don’t couples plan accordingly?

    I tend to think there are those who in later life might regret their decision, though I have little knowledge thereof.

  3. Dastyari is a slow motion train wreck.
    He should be able to land a killer blow on Patterson but he just can’t.
    Labor in a nutshell.
    Weak as piss.

  4. Dominic PerrottetVerified account@Dom_Perrottet
    16m16 minutes ago
    Gladys is the people’s choice as Premier and I support her as our leader. #nswpol

  5. Edited to comply with William’s request.

    Conservatives are fighting a losing battle. Labor could be the government faster than we think depending on Berejekelien’s spine and the zealotry.

  6. Itza:

    I’m still amazed there are Liberals willing to blow up the leadership so soon after an election win, and ostensibly over an issue upon which they can simply vote on conscience.

    I know I’ve asked this before, but seriously, WTF?

  7. This is the ongoing Americanisation (or Republicanisation) of the Liberal Party.

    This will come back to haunt them, as soon as Labor figures out how to not get drawn into their traps or seems intent on committing political seppuku….

  8. ItzaDream @ #5 Monday, September 16th, 2019 – 10:45 pm

    Confessions @ #4 Monday, September 16th, 2019 – 10:22 pm

    Dominic PerrottetVerified account@Dom_Perrottet
    16m16 minutes ago
    Gladys is the people’s choice as Premier and I support her as our leader. #nswpol

    The ‘peoples choice’ principle might boomerang back should his own ambitions ever coalesce.

    Interesting. Just saw this. I’ve been out at a trivia night and came home to this. So, do you think Dom’s simply playing his cards close to his chest and waiting for the right time to play them, Itza, considering he has likely counted the numbers and knows his time is not now?

  9. briefly @ #1 Monday, September 16th, 2019 – 9:37 pm

    Of all the issues to choose, this would have be the worst. More than 80% of NSW voters will be hoping Berejiklian wins and wins easily. What is it with the NSW Liberals?

    They’re still hopelessly divided, briefly. The elections simply papered over their profound differences. This is what was always going to happen when the 2 wings of the party came to an impasse over an issue that fundamentally divides the Conservatives from the Moderates.

  10. Coalition governments in NSW have been relatively liberal, rather than the sort of hard right ideologues who have dominated Federally and in some other states. The NSW Liberals have their ugly Right, but they’ve been mostly kept in their box to date. It looks lime they’ll stay there for now.

  11. My take on today’s NSW Liberal leadership challenge?

    It won’t amount to a hill of beans. Gladys Berejiklian will prevail. The pretenders to her throne are being more strategic than the hotheads challenging her over the Abortion Decriminilisation Bill.

    There might be more of interest if any of them flounce of to the Cross Bench, though they appear to have realised that that would be political suicide, both for them and their government.

  12. Unrequited unlove?

    Sky News Australia
    @SkyNewsAust
    ·
    2m
    #BREAKING: The move to call a spill against NSW Premier
    @GladysB
    has reportedly been called off.

  13. The Premier was going to call for a show of hands, denying agitators a secret ballot.

    #nswpol
    2GB 873
    @2GB873
    · 20m
    BREAKING | Ray Hadley reveals the move to call a spill against Gladys Berejiklian has been CALLED OFF.

    Rebel Liberal MPs set to move to the crossbench.

    #nswpol

  14. ABC:

    “Well that didn’t last long.

    Tanya Davies, the leader of the breakaway three, released a statement at 7.45am, saying the group received confirmation that further concessions will be forthcoming in relation to the bill, so they have decided to withdraw the spill motion.

    She says she has advised the Premier of the decision.

    More to come.”

  15. What a disgrace that this is even a topic of conversation in 2019.

    What a woman does with her own body is her choice and her choice alone. End of story.

    Yet another demonstration of the ultra-authoritarian nature of conservatives. They claim to support freedom but in reality they seek to force everyone to live by the same rules and beliefs as they do.

    I don’t like her or her government but the Premier is on the right side of history on this one, which is very rare for a Liberal leader. She needs to stand firm against the nutters on her backbench.

  16. Shortest leadership challenge on record? What if someone gave a leadership challenge and nobody came?

    But seriously, has Gladys stared down the challenge or folded to the Right?

  17. The rebels are claiming concessions in our time.

    Be interesting to see what they are and if they are enough to placate their disaffection.

    They can still cause Gladys grief if they defect as a bloc to the crossbench.

    It’s not over just yet.

  18. Mavis Davis @ #2 Monday, September 16th, 2019 – 7:49 pm

    I’ve mixed feelings about abortion. With so many ways to abort, why don’t couples plan accordingly?

    I tend to think there are those who in later life might regret their decision, though I have little knowledge thereof.

    You don’t always fall pregnant to your spouse or intended partner, Mavis.

    It is a really difficult complex decision, it is why the woman should make it, and morons like Barnaby should stick to what they know and are good at which in his case is limited to being unfaithful to his partner.

  19. But seriously, has Gladys stared down the challenge or folded to the Right?

    Noting to see here. Division, infighting, policy backflips, policy indecision and stagnation, backroom deals and leadership tensions are only a political and electoral issue when it happens in the ALP.

    Move along.

  20. Gladys’s challengers have agreed for the sake of party unity not to reveal that they are a small, out of touch minority.

    Who seem to be running the country.

  21. I think Berejiklian played Hadley a bit.

    Hadley was intimating trouble was brewing yesterday no doubt being fed by his MLC Shooters’ mates. Turns out to be a dribble rather than a spill and Jones can wax triumphant on her behalf.

  22. I must confess, I find it hard to believe that the question of abortion is even a viable political one. This is 2019, after all.

    Then I look at Federal politics and understand – Australia is going Back To The Future at a rate of knots. How long ’till we’re back in Victorian times? My guess, is about a decade.

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