Australia Will Have Six Prime Ministers In 11 Years
TFW your entire childhood is John Howard and then you get to vote and it is a total shitshow.
In the past week Australian politics has given new meaning to the phrase "there's a lot going on here".
We don't even have vaguely enough time to lay out the entire history of what happened this week, but in short:
Rumours started swirling that conservative minister Peter Dutton was getting ready to challenge prime minister Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership. Turnbull called a shock vote on the leadership at a meeting of the Liberal party room on Tuesday morning and won 48 votes to Dutton's 35.
But then Dutton resigned as a minister, said, I'm not backing down, and continued to rally supporters through the week. A whole lot of other ministers resigned, the chaos continued, and then some more ministers resigned and people said it was all over for Turnbull.
(There was also this whole B plot about how Dutton might not even be eligible to sit in parliament because of that section of the constitution that kicked out a lot of politicians last year.)
Then two more contenders for the leadership, Liberal deputy Julie Bishop and treasurer Scott Morrison, put themselves forward. And Turnbull said that he would step down if the party room voted to have another leadership vote.
Dutton’s supporters got enough signatures on a petition to have another meeting, the party agreed to vote again on the leadership, and Turnbull stepped down. Then they voted on the three contenders and Dutton... didn’t even win. Now Scott Morrison will be the sixth prime minister Australia has had in 11 years!
*record scratch, freeze frame* How did we get here?
First up, if you are reading this from overseas, it's probably important you understand that Australians do not directly elect the prime minister. Instead, whichever party wins the most seats at the election forms government, and the leader of that party becomes the prime minister. So the parties can change who leads the country at their whim.
AND BOY, DO THEY EVER.
In November 2007 Labor leader Kevin Rudd celebrated a historic win over former prime minister John Howard who had been in power for 11 years.
Elections – they're normal in Australia. All good here, nothing to see! Right guys? Guys....
Rudd was DRAMATICALLY replaced by his deputy prime minister Julia Gillard in 2010 after he lost the support of his party and resigned.
Here they are in the world's most awkward "We're still friends!" photo op pointing uselessly at a map.
Gillard was elected unopposed as his replacement and became Australia's first female prime minister.
In June 2013, after a Labor leadership spill – and three long years of Rudd v Gillard tension – Gillard lost the prime ministership back to Rudd.
We now refer to that time as the "Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years", or "the killing season". In August 2013, Gillard resigned from politics altogether and is now the chair of mental health organisation beyondblue.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, due to all this Labor drama...in August the Coalition won the federal election and a guy by the name of Tony Abbott became prime minister.
Kevin Rudd resigned from parliament too. And Bill Shorten, who was one of the "faceless men" behind the Labor prime ministerial knifings, became the opposition leader. Politics, huh!
Abbott lasted two years in the top job before he was defeated in a September 2015 leadership spill by...Malcolm Turnbull!
(Bit of backstory here: Turnbull was previously the leader of the Liberal party while in opposition from September 2008 to December 2009. He lost the leadership when Tony Abbott defeated him in, you guessed it, a leadership spill. But he wasn't a sitting prime minister at the time soooo we'll just leave that one there.)
Abbott is still around on the backbench btw...and has spent the last two and a half years criticising Turnbull and the government despite hilariously promising not to "snipe" when he was dumped as PM.