‘In the decades after the second world war, losing an election was not necessarily grounds for a leader being replaced or challenged. Federal Labor leaders Bert Evatt and Arthur Calwell and Victorians Clive Stoneham and Clyde Holding all lost three successive elections while remaining in place. In contrast, only one party leader since the 1980s (Rob Borbidge, Queensland Nationals) has survived to suffer three or more electoral defeats.
‘Until at least the 1970s, the major route to party leadership was through seniority, and patience was considered a virtue. … The emphasis on seniority and patience had its costs. It denied some of the most able people their chance to lead.
‘The way times have changed is exemplified in the frequency of party coups against sitting prime ministers.’