Amid the general chaos of the Liberal Party, the idea of a split has turned from fantasy to serious possibility. If Joe Hockey does the decent thing, and doesn’t run against Turnbull, it now seems quite likely that Turnbull would prevail against the unelectable Abbott and the still less electable Andrews. But that might easily provoke some rightwingers to Bolt from the party, more on grounds of collective insanity than any kind of calculation.
And, if Turnbull loses, there are increasingly* credible suggestions he might move to the cross-benches and stay on, perhaps attracting some followers. The appeal for moderate Liberals would not be that such a party would have good long-term prospects but that they are multiply doomed if they stay with the sinking ship. First, most moderates are in marginal urban seats that are likely to be lost. Second, those that survive will have no prospects for advancement in a regime where Hockey (while he lasts) is the puppet of Minchin and Abbott. And finally, advancement is of little use in a party that looks set to be out of office for a decade or so. For those who believe in the necessity of tackling climate change, and can see the difference between Turnbull’s willingness to take a stand and the prevarication and vacillation of Hockey and Abbott, a third party might be the shot. If they somehow survive the election, the Libs would be forced to take them back sooner or later, on their own terms.
* Apologies for paywalled link