Bookmakers Sportingbet no longer rate Malcolm Turnbull as a raging red hot favourite to lead the Liberals at the next election.
In June, when Peter Costello announced he was heading home and would not be around for the next election, Sportingbet rated Turnbull a near certainty to lead the Libs and offered odds of $1.15. Joe Hockey was seen as the only challenger with any prospects and was rated a $4.25 chance. Other pretenders (oops!) contenders that bookies rated were Tony Abbott ($11), Julie Bishop ($13), Andrew Robb ($15) and Peter Dutton ($15).
Turnbull's odds are now out to $1.90, while Jockey has firmed to $3. Other firmers are Abbott $5.50 and Robb $7.50. Bishop is out the door at $21. Dutton is also a blower and is now $21 - perhaps Costello should have kept his mouth shut rather than singing this bloke's praises.
Fairfax's Age and Herald report that Liberal staff and MPs despair about their prospects of winning the next election and continue to canvas leadership alternatives to Malcolm Turnbull. The mood is so bad that a gathering organised by Mr Turnbull's office at the B Bar in Canberra on Wednesday night to boost morale descended into a discussion about ''saving the furniture''.
According to one Liberal who attended, the leadership question - including the merits of replacing Mr Turnbull with Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey or Andrew Robb - was loudly discussed, with four or five of Turnbull's staff nearby.
''We were not talking about crunching numbers [for a leadership vote] … but the fact that it was being so openly discussed with so many people was just extraordinary.
''The dynamic was incredibly interesting. Turnbull's staff … didn't want to talk to anyone, they just sat in their own little group.''
The source said there was widespread dissatisfaction about poor tactics from the leader's office, a lack of preparation for the next election and the absence of an overall message.
Opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton, Victorian senator and former Costello adviser Mitch Fifield, South Australian Liberal MP Jamie Briggs and NSW Liberal MP Alex Hawke were all present.
Pic credit: Fairfax