For Tony Abbott, today's vote was confirmation that his days as Prime Minster are numbered. His departure is not a matter of if, but when. The only question that remains is how it will occur. Will Malcolm Turnbull challenge, or will he simply wait for the party room to call a spill and then run?
For the most part, the commentariat (both progressive and conservative) seems to believe that the latter will occur. Since last being leader of the parliamentary Liberal party, Malcolm Turnbull has become extremely disciplined, waiting for Abbott to implode instead of trying to cause issues himself. This strategy has worked well for Turnbull, who will be able to take the leadership whilst also maintaining the visage of a team player—something which will make surviving the conservative wing of the LNP much easier for him.
When Abbott will go is not certain. Realistically, one would suggest that he probably only has one more significant policy blunder in him. If he manages to make it to the budget without a major blunder, there is little doubt that the next budget will probably pick him off. Abbott simply does not have the political capital to create the budget that he needs to lift his approval rating, whilst keeping the conservative wing of the party happy. This is because what the electorate wants and what the conservative arm of the party wants are two entirely different things: the conservative arm wants, well, fiscal conservatism, whilst the voters want a budget that is perceived as fair (which is code for a budget that doesn't reduce entitlements to the middle class).
Creating such a budget is a politically impossible task when your approval ratings are about the same as Ivan Milat's. On top of this, neither he nor Joe Hockey has the policy acumen or the creativity to pull out a budget capable of saving Abbott's Prime Ministership. This spells disaster for the PM and is likely to precipitate in a Turnbull Prime Ministership.
What has become more and more certain over the past 24 hours is that Tony Abbott will not be the Prime Minister come election time. It is now relatively evident that Malcolm Turnbull will be the Australian Prime Minister in the not too distant future. Abbott may have robbed us of Australia Day with his Sir Prince Phillip gaffe, but there is no doubt in my mind that the Australian public will have something to celebrate soon enough...