Exorcising the bitter, lonely ghost of Queen Malcolm

Caption: Cabinet was getting real sick of Malcolm showing up unannounced.

After Labor first installed a revolving door in the prime minister?s office, they eventually moved to put a brake on serial leadership changes. Once he?d succeeded in knifing the prime minister who?d knifed him, Kevin Rudd changed the rules around leadership challenges, raising the bar high enough to protect his job from other ambitious deputies like him.

Having disastrously copied Labor?s leadership hijinks, the Liberals are finally learning that a line has to be drawn. Quote:

Scott Morrison has moved to end the leadership crisis within the government by implementing sweeping changes to party rules aimed at preventing a sitting ?Liberal prime minister from being challenged.

The overhaul is a deliberate ?effort by Mr Morrison to assert his authority over the party, preserve his leadership from potential rivals including Julie Bishop, and assure voters the government can offer stability and continuity if re-?elected next May.

The Prime Minister last night called an unscheduled partyroom meeting to discuss the shake-up after an extraordinary intervention by Malcolm Turnbull in the NSW preselection process aimed at denying Tony Abbott?s ally Craig Kelly another term in parliament.

After the meeting, Mr Morrison said the government had made a ?historic decision? that he described as the biggest change to Liberal leadership rules since the party?s founding by Robert Menzies in 1944. End of quote.

Morrison is a spin doctor from way back, and his apologia is straight from Crisis Communications 101. It?s also good policy. Quote:

?We understand, our entire party, the frustration and the disappointment that Australians have felt when governments and prime ministers that they have elected under their authority, under their power, (have) been taken from them with the actions of politicians here in Canberra,? he said. ?We understand that frustration. We understand that disappointment. We acknowledge it and we take responsibility for it ? The Liberal Party ? has made a ?decision and that decision is that an elected ?Liberal Party leader who goes to the election, wins that election and becomes prime minister ? they will remain prime minister for that full parliamentary term?. End of quote.

Labor?s similar rules meant that the revolving-door prime ministership was brought to a halt ? for the time being ? but it also meant that, in Opposition, dumping even a leader as on the nose with the public as Bill Shorten is next-to-impossible. Quote:

The change to party rules will buttress Mr Morrison?s leadership and protect him from rivals until next year?s election, due to be held on May 11 or 18 following an April 2 budget. The rule change can only be overturned by a two-thirds vote of the partyroom. However, this rule would not apply in opposition.

Mr Morrison consulted with former Liberal prime ministers John Howard and Mr Abbott about the leadership reforms, but did not speak to his predecessor, Mr Turnbull. End of quote.

Morrison made the mistake of being entirely too indulgent with the ousted Turnbull and obviously underestimated just how petty, vindictive and destructive Turnbull was going to be. However, the Liberals have obviously decided to exorcise the bitter, lonely ghost that?s been wailing outside their door for months. Quote:

Malcolm Turnbull finds himself isolated from the Liberal Party?s most influential powerbrokers and senior MPs after his attempt to embarrass the Prime Minister failed.

The ousted prime minister was scorned by Liberals yesterday ? including moderates ? in the wake of his brazen bid to block Scott Morrison over preselections and try to force an early election. End of quote.

It?s always weird to be agreeing with Jeff Kennett, but Boofhead has Queen Malcolm nailed. Quote:

Former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett said Mr Turnbull?s actions since losing his job revealed the former Wentworth MP, whose seat was lost to independent Kerryn Phelps, was ?all about Malcolm?.

?It has never been about party, it has never been about friendship, it has never been about country, it is all about Malcolm and it is very sad,? Mr Kennett said. ?He has turned his back on (the party) in the most persona?l and spiteful way.? End of quote.

Now that the Liberals have learned from Labor, Turnbull could well learn from Julia Gillard, who, to her credit, has done exactly what ex-prime ministers should do: shut their pie-holes, collect their pensions, and do some community work.