in the current political power play in Australian Federal politics.
Our Foreign Minister resigned yesterday. He did not do this on home soil. He did it while he was in Washington. He called a press conference at 1:30am (yes, I do have that right) and announced that he felt he no longer had the support of the Prime Minister. It was the sort of dramatic gesture he likes.
I doubt he has ever had the support of the Prime Minister. She ousted him when he was Prime Minister. Part of the price she had to pay for getting the job as Prime Minister was to make sure he was given the role of Foreign Minister. It is still a high profile job. There would be a great deal of overseas travel. She encouraged that. When he was out of the country he could do less damage to her leadership, or so she believed. In all likelihood he has now struck the fatal blow.
The Prime Minister may retain her job for now. There are a number of reasons for this. The chief among these is that she is Prime Minister in name only. The real power lies with a Senator - Bob Brown of the Greens. He dictates from behind the scenes. Labor needs him. They cannot do without him. He has one of his team in the Lower House. Labor needs that vote. Brown controls the Senate. If his team votes with Labor they get legislation through. If it does not then legislation does not pass.
Then there are the other "independents". Two of them say that their arrangement is with the current Prime Minister. If she goes then they say that "all bets are off" and they will "reconsider their support for the government". Would they really pull support? An election will mean the almost certain loss of their jobs too. They are unlikely to get re-elected. At the moment they also hold a great deal of power, power far in excess of their electoral worth. Another independent claims he no longer supports the government but he too may lose his seat so his support for an opportunistic move by the Opposition to bring on an election is considered unlikely.
The Prime Minister however is a loser in all this too. It is clear that her party is divided. It is divided to a degree which suggests that, whatever she might try and do, she will not be able to pull them together into a cohesive team again. There will always be doubts about her leadership skills. She has lost a high profile Foreign Minister, a very high profile Foreign Minister with many useful contacts abroad. He may not be well liked but he is well known. That alone can get things done.
The Opposition is a loser in all this as well. It has not yet been able to oust an unpopular minority government.
The media likes to blame the present leader of the Opposition for this. The media does not like him. They make him out to be a bumbling fool at every opportunity. They do their best to set him up in situations, such as the Australia Day "riot", in order to try and make him squirm. His politics are unacceptable. His religious beliefs are unacceptable. He is portrayed as a "mad monk" and a "fitness freak" who "dabbles in good works". The reality is rather different but whether he will be given an opportunity to show it is uncertain. What is certain is that the media will now try harder than ever to see him ousted. They would like to see the return of a suave, sophisticated man with the sort of wealth they can throw mud at.
Leadership tensions will remain until after the next election.
I think I can safely predict one thing - both major parties will go with the leader they believe will lose them the least seats.
Am I right or wrong?