Peter Dutton in the House of Representatives Chamber at Parliament House in Canberra. (Pic: Kym Smith)
Peter Dutton in the House of Representatives Chamber at Parliament House in Canberra. (Pic: Kym Smith)

‘That’s not a knifing … THIS is a knifing’

NEVER say the Australian psyche has lost its capacity for innovation.

From the Hill's Hoist to the HPV vaccine our happy island of twenty-something million has always punched above our weight, as they say, when it comes to new and better ways to do things.

And it's not just our inventors and researchers.

Our politicians also like to do what they do best in ever-better ways, which in their case means getting to the top of Canberra's greasy pole.

Where once political knifings were exciting but ultimately predictable one-dimensional affairs, the present Coalition party room has put on their lab coats and rewritten the script for spills.

And not before time.

Because, if we're honest, we'd all become a little bit bored with the old pollie-knifes-pollie story playing out with enough regularity to be a reminder to check the batteries in our smoke detectors.

What will Peter Dutton’s next move be? (Pic: Rod McGuirk/AP)
What will Peter Dutton’s next move be? (Pic: Rod McGuirk/AP)

Keating offs Hawke, Gillard offs Rudd, Turnbull offs Abbott: We all see it coming, we know how it goes, and how the story ends.

Though, perhaps in an effort to be true to the spirit of the 2020 Summit, Rudd did advance the plot a bit when he came back for a second bite of the apple.

As of this writing, there are almost too many potential scenarios to canvas.

The simplest one - Dutton has another poke on Thursday and gets over the line on momentum - now may be the least likely.

There is also the notion that Dutton put himself forward as a stalking horse for Tony Abbott, who will finally retake his throne on the next go-around.

There was even the theory that Scott Morrison was doing the numbers to back Dutton.

And of course, confusion in conservative ranks could see the PM hang on, bloodied, until the next election (which he might just go and call early if only to be done with it).

To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, it's as if the Coalition looked at the past ten years of politics and said, "That's not a knifing … THIS is a knifing!".

Mick Dundee’s infamous “that’s not a knife” scene now has political resonance. (Pic: Supplied)
Mick Dundee’s infamous “that’s not a knife” scene now has political resonance. (Pic: Supplied)

It's surely not what Turnbull meant a few years ago when he told the nation to go forth and be agile, but here we are.

As knifing plots go, Shakespeare did it better, and more dramatically, with Julius Caesar - which really should be made required reading not in our English classes but in civics and citizenship, if only to see what a properly dramatic coup looks like.

But even the Bard with his complex plots would have a hard time documenting the present state of affairs, which is about as easy to untangle as a box of Christmas tree lights you absolutely swear you coiled up neatly 11 months ago (just what do those bloody lights get up to there in the attic, anyway?).

And it would have stretched the credulity even of Shakespeare's original audiences at the Globe Theatre to have Caesar demand loyalty from those who stabbed him, even as he was bleeding out on the floor.

Which is about the only analogy one can make to Turnbull demanding loyalty from cabinet ministers who voted against him yesterday.

James Morrow is The Daily Telegraph opinion editor.



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