They have been compared with rats deserting a sinking ship and urged to think of the country by former Nationals leader John Anderson.
Three cabinet ministers have quit in the last week alone – Kelly O’Dwyer, Michael Keenan and Nigel Scullion – but the colleagues they leave behind face an almighty fight for survival.
Looking ahead to the 2019 election that is expected in May, it’s the Liberal ministers who are prepared to stand and fight who face a political killing field at the next election.
A who’s who of the remaining members of Scott Morrison’s cabinet face losing their seats with up to half a dozen, including Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Attorney-General Christian Porter, in the firing line.
The combination of the resignations and the seats in play at the next election could see up to one-third of Mr Morrison’s cabinet face the end of their political careers.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton (3), who challenged Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership, is the most high-profile minister at risk. Mr Dutton won his Brisbane seat of Dickson in the 2016 election by a whisker of just 1500 votes. On paper he’s on a 1.7 per cent margin. The seat is firmly in play.
Attorney-General Christian Porter (2) holds the seat of Pearce in Western Australia by just 3.6 per cent. Despite speculation he is keen to parachute into Julie Bishop’s seat if she quits, the Prime Minister insists Mr Porter is staying put. Liberals remain concerned his seat could be lost.
Health Minister Greg Hunt (1) shouldn’t have anything to worry about in the seat of Flinders. On paper, with a margin of 7 per cent, it should be a safer seat. But that was before support for the Coalition crashed even further after the leadership chaos. Labor has been targeting Mr Hunt for his role in pushing for a ballot and there is even speculation that Independent Julia Banks could cross the border to give him a run for his money.
Immigration Minister David Coleman (4) is hardly a household name, but he could be even less well known after the election. He holds the western Sydney seat of Banks by the slimmest of margins of just 1.4 per cent.
The colt from Kooyong, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (5) should be one of the safest seats around with a 12.8 per cent margin, a blue ribbon Liberal enclave that was once home to Andrew Peacock. But Mr Frydenberg, faces a challenge from former Liberal Oliver Yates. Yates, the former chief executive of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is expected to confirm he is running in Kooyong on Wednesday.
The 6 per cent swing against the Liberal Party in November’s Victorian state election will have Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge (4) uneasy. His seat of Aston is under threat, even though he holds it with an 7.4 per cent margin.
And that’s not all …
Other high-profile names who could quit before the next election include former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (1) in the prime Western Australian seat of Curtin.
Former workplace minister Craig Laundy (3) could also quit the New South Wales seat of Reid, which he holds with a 4.7 per cent margin.
Former Nationals leader and deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce (4) also faces his first major electorate test in New England since revelations of his marriage break-up and his extra-marital affair and child with staffer Vikki Campion were kept under wraps during the 2017 by-election.
Former assistant minister to the treasurer Michael Sukkar (5) also faces a tough fight in Deakin. Dumped after working as one of Peter Dutton’s numbers men for the leadership coup he faces a tough fight to hang on to his Victorian seat. Holds the seat by 6.6 per cent – which on paper should be winnable even with a sizeable swing but has a fight on his hand.
Mr Morrison’s star recruit Warren Mundine (6) isn’t even in Parliament yet but he faces an uphill battle getting elected in the seat of Gilmore. It is on a knife-edge margin of just 0.7 per cent.
Last but not least, former PM Tony Abbott (2) holds the Sydney seat of Warringah by 11 per cent, but he faces his biggest challenge yet from an array of independents, including high-profile Winter Olympian Zali Steggall.