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Malcolm Turnbull has ‘three options’ remaining

For some Liberal moderates, Scott Morrison would be a more palatable leadership option than Peter Dutton. Photo: AAP
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Dear Malcolm,

As much as you’d like to claim Tuesday’s vote in the Liberal party room draws a line under the challenge to your leadership, we know it isn’t so.

It took two strikes for Paul Keating to wrest the prime ministership from his predecessor. And, if we count the empty chair challenge against Tony Abbott, it took two strikes for you to do the same.

Even though it was you who called for the spill today, the resulting vote inflicted terminal damage on your leadership.

The other contender, Peter Dutton, has only to recruit seven more MPs to his side to bring your premiership to an end.

You might not even last the three more days needed to replace Gough Whitlam as Australia’s 15th longest-serving PM.

This practical reality leaves you with three options.

The first option is to let nature take its course. Bare your throat to the reactionary hyenas and get it over and done with quickly. This would mean an honourable loss later in the week, followed swiftly by your resignation from the Parliament.

You could be unencumbered by the weekend.

The second option is to take the scorched earth approach. Visit the Governor-General today and call a federal election. You even have time to hold an election before the footy finals weekend in October and before Victoria goes to the polls.

Yes, you had a horror opinion poll this week, but this is at least partly because voters have frankly had enough of these leadership shenanigans.

We’d welcome the chance to either kick your arse or hand you a new mandate. Calling an election would be the democratic thing to do.

However, you do have one other option. Leadership change doesn’t have to be a destructive force. Just as several state government leaders have done successfully, you could pre-empt (and yes, manipulate) the next leadership vote by ‘handing over’ the leadership this week.

You could do this by ‘anointing’ a successor who was able to secure the support of moderate Liberals as well as the conservatives who are worried that Peter Dutton is a glove puppet for Tony Abbott.

Scott Morrison seems to be the most likely candidate for such a tidy transition, but Christian Porter might be suitable. This would be the responsible thing to do.

Many Australian voters had high hopes for you Malcolm, but you’ve let us down repeatedly. This is your last chance to stand up against the reactionaries.

Take option three.

Paula Matthewson was media adviser to John Howard in the early 1990s and then worked for almost 25 years in communication, political and industry advocacy roles.

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