Aussie governing party seeks to change rules to end "frustrating" leadership changes

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-04 10:57:27|Editor: ZD
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CANBERRA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- Australia's governing Liberal Party has sought to avoid future leadership crises by changing the rules around deposing leaders.

Liberal Party Members of Parliament (MPs) on Monday night agreed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's proposal that two thirds of the party room must support a leadership spill for it to be successful -- a significantly higher threshold than the simple majority currently required.

It marks the most significant change to Liberal Party processes in more than 70 years and follows a similar change introduced by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in 2013.

The Liberal Party was engulfed by a leadership crisis in August that ended in the downfall of former PM Malcolm Turnbull, with Morrison chosen to be his successor.

Under the new rules advocated by Morrison, the August spill would not have been successful and Turnbull would still be PM.

No Australian PM has completed a full term in office since 2007.

Following the vote on Monday night, Morrison said he understood the voters' "frustration and disappointment" with constant leadership changes.

"We understand that frustration, we understand that disappointment, we acknowledge it and we take responsibility for it," he told reporters in Canberra.

"They're sick of it and we're sick of it and it has to stop, that's why we've put this rule in place.

"Australians have the very reasonable expectation that when they elect a government, when they elect a prime minister, they should be the ones to determine if the prime minister is not to continue."

The spate of leadership changes, known in Australia as "the killing season," began with the ALP in 2010 when then-deputy PM Julia Gillard defeated PM Kevin Rudd in a leadership challenge.

Rudd exacted revenge in 2013 when Labor voted to oust Gillard and install Rudd as leader once again to mitigate its losses in the 2013 election, which was won by the Liberal-National Party, the coalition of the Liberal Party and National Party of Australia, and its leader Tony Abbott.

Abbott served two years as PM before being deposed by Turnbull, who was in turn cast aside by the party in favour of Morrison in August.

Rudd changed the threshold for a change of ALP leaders in 2013 so that a 75 percent majority of the party is required to depose a sitting PM and a 60 percent majority to remove an opposition leader.

Following the August crisis, Rudd urged the Liberal Party to follow his lead and "adopt a rule change to prevent rolling political chaos."

"It's helped give Labor five years of stability," he said, referring to current ALP leader Bill Shorten, who has led the party since the 2013 election.

Turnbull on Tuesday welcomed the changes that would have saved his job, telling Sky News Australia that it was "better late than never."

"People will welcome the prospect of there being, you know, fewer -- well, less of the, sort of, revolving-door prime ministership, which I think was the way Scott Morrison referred to it last night," he said.

"I think it's a welcome reform."