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Published on Sep 16, 2015
CANBERRA — The revolving door of Australia's prime ministership has whirred into action again. With the unpopular Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott dropped before he could even stand for reelection, Malcolm Turnbull becomes the country's fifth leader in just over five years.
Abbott served just 726 days as Prime Minister — fewer than both of his Labor Party predecessors Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard — surely a painful humiliation for a man who had for his political career lusted after the office. Ironic, too, for a party which made hay from the instability of the Rudd-Gillard years.
A former journalist, then barrister, then entrepreneur who made his fortune during Australia's dot-com boom, Turnbull is known for his ego and his reputation as a Renaissance man. He is a rare classical liberal in a party overrun with conservatives and idealogues and is significantly more popular with the electorate than his predecessor, though he has powerful opponents within the party's right. Abbott, meanwhile, is an archconservative and political attack dog derided by critics as visionless and is deeply unpopular with the electorate.
By ditching a prime minister who had presided over farcical budgets, poorly-received policies, troubling debt and who had no answer to the end of the Asian-led commodities boom, the Liberal party is pinning its hopes on Turnbull to claw back trust before the next election.
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