Defence Minister Peter Dutton believes he now has the numbers to topple Prime Minister Scott Morrison when Liberal politicians next meet in Canberra.
The Bug understands Mr Dutton is already a healthy handful of votes ahead of the PM as nervous members in marginal seats watch on in despair as Mr Morrison faces allegations of yet another COVID-19 bungle – this time his government’s alleged failure to secure sufficient Rapid Antigen Test kits to deal with the upsurge in coronavirus cases once state borders were reopened.
The Bug understands that Mr Dutton will call for a leadership spill when Liberal MHRs and Senators gather in the nation’s capital at the beginning of sitting weeks in February.
The Bug has obtained exclusive video footage (above) of Mr Dutton rehearsing what he will say at that meeting. He is flanked by Dickson electorate office staffers dressed as senior Australian navy and army personnel.
The former Home Affairs Minister says in the video: “I have enormous respect for Scott and what he has attempted to achieve as our nation’s leader.
“But, sadly, a good government has lost its way.”
Liberal sources have told The Bug Mr Dutton began considering a leadership tilt when persistent internal polling showed he would very likely lose his electorate, to the north and west of Brisbane, despite having brilliantly cultivated its high content of fundamentalist happy-clappers over the years.
A close associate of Mr Dutton explained, on the condition of anonymity, the minister’s dilemma.
“Peter and his wife have never really been people interested in money and procuring wealth for wealth’s sake.
“They are not well off by any means so Peter had to ask himself as a 51-year-old: ‘What now for a former career politician?’
“Then someone explained that even if the LNP loses the expected May election, his retirement and superannuation packages as a former PM would be substantially higher than if he lost his seat under Mr Morrison’s leadership.
“It was a no-brainer really.
“Make no mistake. The challenge is on!
“More than that, Peter is superbly confident that a snap election in March would return the LNP to a fourth term in power, given an understandable honeymoon period based on the enormous affection the Australian people already feel for him for always defending Australia’s borders and keeping them safe and his persistent warnings to China to bloody well behave themselves or else!”