Luke Simpkins in Karen State

Image by Steve Sandford: Source

Today, a Liberal Member of the Australian Parliament, Luke Simpkins, declared he will push for a spill of his party’s top leadership positions next Tuesday, 10 February 2015. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull are considered the two MPs most likely to make a run for Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s position.

Ms Bishop claims she has not given advice to her Liberal colleagues:

No, I don’t have any advice to my colleagues because they are elected members of Parliament and they will take whatever action they see fit.

Ms Bishop has a strong powerbase in her home state of Western Australia and Luke Simpkins is also from that side of the continent. Mr Simpkins has confirmed he will push for the leadership spill next Tuesday. In an email, he wrote:

In the last two weeks I have been inundated with emails and walk-ins to my Electorate Office all questioning the direction the Government is being led in.

It happens that over the last two weeks, Mr Simpkins has been away from his desk, as reported by Fairfax papers this week. He was apparently in the borderlands of Thailand for five days, and also made a trip to Myanmar. According to that report, he crossed the Thailand-Myanmar border illegally and raised the Australian flag (see above). Mr Simpkins was in Karen State to recognise Karen Revolution Day on 31 January 2015. He claimed he would report his findings to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to comment on Mr Simpkins’ border crossing.

Over the coming days, no doubt we’ll learn more about Mr Simpkins, his Myanmar connection, and his relationship with Ms Bishop.

Olivia Cable is with the Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University