THE days of a former prime minister being neither seen or heard after leaving office have apparently long passed in this country.
And the continued interference of politicians who have had their day is contributing to the sorry merry-go-round of leadership we have seen in Australia for the past decade.
It’s hard to believe that it is now 10 years since we have seen a prime minister complete a full term of office.
The last to do so was John Howard and his final term saw him not only lose the keys to The Lodge in 2007 but also lose his Sydney seat of Bennelong.
Apparently, being prime minister isn’t what used to be.
Since Mr Howard’s departure we have seen Kevin Rudd knifed by Julia Gillard after just two and a half years; Mr Rudd return the favour after Ms Gillard had served as PM for three years; and then Malcolm Turnbull oust Tony Abbott just two years after Mr Abbott had led the Coalition out of the political wilderness.
So it should be no surprise that Malcolm Turnbull is now facing his own battle to hold on to the prime ministership – nor that Mr Abbott is doing as much as anyone to undermine him.
That said, Mr Turnbull has also been guilty of undermining himself at times.
The latest example is his decision to delay by a week the return of the House of Representatives for the final sitting of the year.
That decision was only ever going to provide further ammunition for Mr Turnbull’s opponents – from both inside and outside his own party, as it happened.
The PM’s claim that the decision was taken to ensure the passage of same-sex marriage legislation before Christmas has fooled no-one.
It is clearly a move to protect the government’s numbers on the floor ahead of a by-election in Barnaby Joyce’s seat of New England on December 2, and the PM might have been better served admitting that up front.
As it has played out, criticism of the delayed sitting by Mr Abbott has been far more damaging than anything Bill Shorten or the cross-benchers could have said and simply adds to the impression that Mr Turnbull is living on borrowed (political) time.
Welcome to the new reality of Australian politics. We used to sneer at nations that lurched from one leader to the next– now we’re one of them.