Follow The Spill: A Junkee Liveblog

Something's happening in Canberra right now. Follow our live blog here. [UPDATE, 5pm: liveblog is no longer being updated, but it's definitely still worth a read.]

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UPDATE, 5pm: Party’s over.

READERS: This page is in more need of refreshing than someone who’s hankering for a cooool iced tea. By which I mean refresh the page a lot. 


Simon Crean calls a press conference for 1pm. The nation holds its breath for a massive and groundbreaking announcement on arts funding. Disappointment follows when he’s just calling for a leadership spill to install Kevin Rudd as PM.


Crean isn’t calling a spill, he’s calling on the PM to call a spill.

If the PM won’t call a spill, Crean asks the caucus to force one. (In order to force a spill, the caucus needs a ⅔ majority.) UPDATE: ABC reporting that a petition is already being circulated, Ursula Stephens first to sign’ Mark Furner (yes, THE Mark Furner) has signed.

Crean isn’t putting himself up for the leadership, he’s supporting Rudd, but he is putting himself up for Deputy PM.

This is strange, because not only has Rudd not endorsed him for DPM, but it’s conventional wisdom that he’d want to go with Albanese. Sneaky, Crean. Very sneaky.

Simon Crean looks like everyone’s uncle.

Crean says if Gillard wins the spill, he’ll resign.

Gillard has confirmed there will be a spill at 4:30

Kevin Rudd is not challenging. 


The Presser

1.00 – Press conference starts in Canberra. After some initial pleasantries, Crean calls on the Prime Minister to call a spill. Over in Sydney, Anthony Ackroyd shits his pants in delight.

1.05 – Now that a spill has been called, Peter Hartcher doesn’t quite know what to do with himself.

1.10 Crean gets Cranky with the press for the first time. “I know you’ve got things in your ears, I don’t have any in mine”. Not his finest zinger.

1.15 Crean ‘If this fails I’ll happily walk away…well, um, not happily, but I’ll walk away.” Best sound-byte so far.

1.20 Laurie Oakes asks Crean if it’s a bad look a mob of blokes rolling the first female PM. Crean doesn’t answer but laughs at the word ‘mob’ for a while.

1:22 Crean asked if there’ll be an early election – he thinks govts should run their full term.

1.23 Asked again about the misogyny angle, Crean shakes his head and says that he won’t dignify that with a response, or some such.

1:25 Crean likens the ALP to a strong vessel that just needs to steer in the right direction. Courting the coveted mariner vote, obviously.

1.30 Crean ends press conference by dropping the mic and walking away shouting ‘CREAN OUT!’ The nation readies itself for a nice calm QT.

Question Time

1.55 – Anna Burke goes into her happy mind cave.

2.00 – Anna Burke “Latitude and tolerance is not something I plan on giving today”. Starting off well.

2.01 – The Prime Minister confirms there’ll be a ballot.

2.03 – The PM talks about the education revolution, resisting what must be an overwhelming temptation to tip over the box and shout ‘well fuck this shit’.

2.05 – Abbott venerates the member for Hotham as a respected elder statesman. Hasn’t exactly been Crean’s biggest fan until now.

2.06 – The PM points this out.

2.10 – Burke reminds the house that there are several dignitaries in the gallery. HOW EMBARRASSING FOR US.

2.10 – Abbott moves a vote of no confidence in the PM. For the decent, honest hardworking people of Australia. This is a speech that has been clearly practiced in the shower for months.

2.11 – Abbott continues for some time.

2.13 – Albo talking with the crossbenches.

2.14 – Foreign dignitaries just stoked to be there.

2.15 – Abbott digging the boot in over the collapsed media reforms. Talks about the words that will haunt the PM like little wordy ghosts. Now talking about the boats. Live cattle. Then, because even he has forgotten why he’s saying things, he says ‘and that is why we need to suspend standing orders’. The is the parliamentary equivalent of ‘and that’s how I got my hat.’

2.17 – Tony Windsor has had just about enough of this bullshit.

2.18 – Abbott has seen enough of politics to have respect for the Labor party. Now it says Labor has been reduced to a life support system for one person ( drum roll) the Prime Minister.

2.20 – Julie Bishop has the call. Does not have nice things to say about the PM – PM doesn’t seen that concerned, is having a nice time chatting and writing things down with Stephen Smith. Is unclear if they are playing pictionary. Like they are not.

2.21 – Julie Bishop reminds the parliament that the Greens and Wilkie have both turned their backs on the PM.

COMMENT: The Coalition’s strategy seems weird to me. Why attack Gillard on the way out? Sort of gives credence to the spill.

2.23 – Bishop says that Gillard has been declaring war on the Australian people. Then accuses her of ugly, divisive politics. Universe amazingly does not explode in a cloud of irony.

2.24 – While Bishop goes on about this, I’d like to take this opportunity to give a big shout out to Scott and Craig, currently stuck in Dural milking a cow.

2.25 – Gillard responds: ‘The leader of the opposition just had the opportunity to tell the Australian people their vision. Instead just attacks’

2.25 – Anna Burke remembers the standard issue cyanide pill hidden in the false tooth of all parliamentary speakers.

2.28 – Gillard let’s slip that children are our most precious resource. Coal sues for defamation. Reinhart opens a child-mine.

2.29 – PM continues her list of govt achievements. Health, NDIS, Labour laws, dodging the GFC. Hints at her past misogyny speech.

2.30 – This is fucking exhausting.

3.31 – Gillard doing better than she ever has in QT. All it took was the certainty that she’d never do it again. Who knew?

2.33 – Abbott has his back to Gillard. It’s because he’s talking to Bishop, but not a great look.

2.34 – Gillard talks about ‘her prime ministership’ in future tense for the first time.

2.35 – Division on motion to suspend standing orders. The nation makes a cup of tea.

To be clear – the division to suspend standing orders NOT a vote of no confidence. The motion to suspend SO will mean Abbott can then move a vote of no conf in PM.  Suspension of SO requires 76 votes.

2.39 – Windsor, Oakeshott and Wilkie voting YES on SSO.

2.41 – No idea where Katter is. Somewhere crazy, I’ll wager.

2.42 – Chris Pyne chatting with Slipper. ‘Hey you know how I tried to destroy you? Yeah, well I totes need a solid all the same”

2.43 – Motion defeated. PM brings QT to a close.


2.44 – Gillard won’t spill senate leadership or dep leadership. Stephen Conroy pretty stoked. Does puts on Stalin hat and does that kicky Russian dance in celebration.

2.47 – Hosts awkwardly take foreign dignitaries to Questacon to try smooth things over.


2.49 – Green has just pointed out that if the leadership changes, we’re not committed to a September 14 election.

2.51 – My housemate just brought me a longneck.

2.52 – Antony Green lives for this shit, mofos. Currently talking about how if there was an election called between 1st of August, it puts the senate and house elections out of step.

2.53 – If the leadership does change, Curtis points out, that the opposition could still move a formal vote of no confidence.

2.55 – Peter Hartcher drafts tomorrow’s article. Goes something like “YOU CALLED ME MAAAAAD! ALL OF YOU! BUT NOW WHO’S LAUGHING NOW, MOTHERFUCKERS?! ME! PETER HARTCHER IS!”

COMMENT: If Abbott couldn’t get a vote to suspend standing orders, it’s pretty unlikely he could get the numbers to pass a vote of no confidence.

2.57 – PM stuffing as many pens into her pockets as possible.

2.58 – Lyndal Curtis just said to Green “Well, those are certainly things that could or could not happen”

3.00 – Discussion of a 3rd person to stand. Consensus is that it’s unlikely. Would be amazing if Mark Butler just stood for lols though.

CLARIFICATION: The SSO motion was defeated 73 to 71. 

3.03 – At last, we get the Graham Perrett Perspective.

3.05 – Let’s not forget, Perrett threatened, a propos of nothing a while ago, to resign under these very circumstances.

3.06 – Perrett does not think Rudd’s hat will be in the ring. Unless he’s talking about a literal hat in a literal ring, he is kidding himself.

3.07 – Perrett backs up the chuckletruck to deliver the lolz as he continues to insist Rudd won’t nominate.

3.08 – Julie Owens is backing the PM. As is Perrett, obviously.

3.10 – Perrett reminds the backbenchers that without Gillard there’s no deal with the independents. This is pretty silly, given that Wilkie has torn up his agreement and Windsor hates Abbott with the passion of a thousand suns. Oakeshott isn’t going anywhere either. 

COMMENT: I do like Perrett, and he doesn’t get the run he deserves. Also he looks a lot – I mean A LOT – like he’s Antony Green’s brother.

3.13 – Wayne Swan Tweets in support of the PM.

3.15 – Tom Waterhouse Tweets this cause he’s a classy dude.

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 3.16.28 PM


3.17 – Uhlmann says that his sources say the numbers are too close to call at this stage. Joel Fitzgibbon reports that the whole caucus has already votes for Rudd, hoisting him onto their shoulders and dumping a big container of Gatorade over his head.

Taking a half hour break, be back real soon. Go outside, talk to a loved one. 

3.26 – Ah darn it, back we come for a second. Crean’s office confirms he’s just been sacked from his ministerial duties. There goes our nation’s first totally rappin’ Arts Minister.

3.28 – The ABC uses silly music. Possibly from the Spartacus soundtrack. Tony Windsor manages to make the phrase ‘path to oblivion’ sound folksy and understated.

Okay, really going this time. Back soon.

Aaaaaaand we’re back. Here’s is a useful resource:

4.09 – It’s been pointed out that if it’s close in caucus, they’re likely to go with the challenger.

4.12 – Rumours abound that Gough Whitlam has died. Untrue. Horrible news about Jeff Goldblum from Richard Wilkins, though.

4.14 – Cassidy outlines the Coalition’s response to a Rudd leadership. Like a finely crafted game of chess…they’ll just remind the electorate of all the horrible things his own party said about him.

4.15 – The internet trips over itself trying to think of the appropriate Game of Thrones reference.

4.16 – God I love Lyndal Curtis. Points out that Parliamentary printing privileges aren’t renewed til July. ‘Will this affect the election being called? Probably not at all’

4.17 – Gough Whitlam remains alive.

4.19 – Rudd has said he won’t challenge.

4.20 – Live blogger sheepishly attempts to delete all the snarky things he said about Perrett.

4.21 – Rudd says he’s a man of his word, and that word is ‘sociopath’.

4.22 – The great thing about this for Labor that they get all the bad press and disorder afforded by a messy spill, with none of the irritating benefits of a leadership change.

4.23 – A green, Peter-Hartcher-shaped behemoth stalks the streets of Sydney.

4.24 – Look, I’m not saying that Rudd triggered this whole thing as revenge for the knifing. But Rudd triggered this whole thing as revenge for the knifing.

4.26 – Simon Crean frantically picking through the wreckage of his career happens upon a shinny penny. Not a total bust, then.

4.29 – Look, Mark Butler, all I’m saying is that if you challenge as a goof it’ll be pretty fucking hilarious. Think of the lolz.

4.31 – The PM walks down the corridor chatting with the caucus like an over populated West Wing shot.

4.37 – Everyone starts to worry that they may have wasted their day following this.

4.38 – Nation’s children remain unpicked up from school.

4.38 – Buuuuuutler! Buuuuuuuuutler! Do it.

4.39 – Who can know what Gillard is saying to caucus? But there’s smart money it begins with ‘If ANY of you motherfuckers…’

COMMENT: I do wonder if the Rudd camp lost numbers as a result of Gillard’s performance in #qt. 

4.42 – As things wrap up, live blogger shamelessly plugs niche blog about the Fairfax cryptic crossword.

4.44 – One nomination received. DON’T KEEP US IN SUSPENSE, RETURNING OFFICER.

4.45 – It is revealed that the nominee was one Julia Gillard. BUT THEN WHAT HAPPENED?

4.46 – Julia Gillard is the Prime Minister of Australia, and, in a weird development, Iceland.

4.47 – If Simon Crean doesn’t begin his presser with ‘Well, fuck…’ it’s a missed opportunity he’ll live with for the rest of his life.

4.48 – Reporter asks ‘what was the mood in the room?’ Returning officer shows Herculean restraint in not saying ‘It was fucken party-time HQ, Carol’

4.50 – Chris Ulhmann, in the most eloquent way possible, basically says ‘The fuck was that?’

4.52 – Joel Fitzgibbon tucks into his shit sandwich.

4.54 – Joel Fitzgibbon addresses himself in the 3rd person.

The nation disembarks from the emotional rollercoaster dizzy, disoriented and nauseous. Simon Crean walks home in a daze, not sure what just happened but almost certain he just got mugged. The Coalition arranges to have glaziers refit all the emergency ‘In Case of Rudd Break Glass’ boxes. Julia Gillard enjoys her victory for approximately a second and then remembers this means she still has to be Prime Minister. Graham Perrett comes out of this looking like a really top bloke. Antony Green flies away in his election zeppelin. Live blogger downs a pale ale and watches the new Walking Dead. Thanks for reading.

Ben Jenkins is a writer. He has two blogs, one about politics and one about crosswords.