The Prime Minister stared down his inter-party challengers this week, winning his head to head leadership battle with Peter Dutton 48 votes to 35. Plenty are already speculating that he could face another spill with the right faction of his party fully aware they were only seven people short of overthrowing the Sydneysider. Still, there is every chance this ‘crisis’ could galvanise Turnbull’s supporter base whilst the disdain the Australian public seems to have shown for political infighting may ward off would-be challengers until after the 2019 election.
The opposition leader appears the man to beat at the next election with his odds shortening after this week's events. Should he be successful he’ll become the fourth Labor Prime Minister since 2007 (Rudd, Gillard, Rudd) and should there not be a change in the current Liberal leadership, the sixth overall across the same period. Whilst Turnbull is still polling relatively strongly as preferred Prime Minister compared to Shorten, Labor has a stranglehold in the two party preferred category (It has won each month since October 2016) and Shorten’s net satisfaction amongst voters also appears to have spiked in recent times.
Although Dutton appears to have initially ruled out throwing his name in the mix for any other challenges this term, there is plenty of speculation he may once again try his hand. After resigning from his cabinet position after yesterday’s vote, the former Home Affairs Minister finds himself in unfamiliar territory on the backbench. Although many believe this leaves him in a weaker position, it should be noted that Paul Keating beat Bob Hawke from a similar position in 1991 whilst Kevin Rudd was on the backbench when he beat Julia Gillard in 2013.