All last week and up till yesterday, Brendan Nelson, Julie Bishop, Nick Minchin, Tony Abbott et al were circling the wagons trying to get the Libs to take a hardline against the Emission Trading System.
The line was that while they believed in climate change (though they did note there was growing scepticism) they were going to wait till China, India and the US did something before they would agree to “cripple the economy” and introduce a carbon trading scheme. This is akin to arguing you are in favour of gay marriage, and fully support homosexual relationships, but you just want to wait till the Vatican approves before legislating to make them legal.
This morning the Libs woke to see this in The Australian:
- Australia should introduce a carbon emissions trading scheme only if other countries also introduce such schemes: 23%
- Australia should introduce one regardless of what other countries do: 60%
- Total Australia should introduce a carbon emissions trading scheme: 83%
- Australia shouldn't introduce a carbon emissions trading scheme at all: 11%
- Uncommitted: 6%
Hmm maybe we need a rethink!
But worse than that, Nelson now could see on the very day he was hoping to convince the shadow cabinet to take the hard line that 60% were against his policy – and 47% of his own supporters were also against it. Those numbers don’t win many debates in a Cabinet room.
The funniest thing today though, was Denis Shanahan in The Australian trying to put a totally unbiased spin on this (ie his usual Lib friendly prose):
Nelson has decided to fight Kevin Rudd, Ross Garnaut, Nicholas Stern, a dedicated core of his own Coalition colleagues and, most importantly, the vast majority of Australian voters.
...However, the 34 per cent who believe there should be no ETS, or at least not until other countries act, is a significant base for Nelson to work from.
Shanahan gets this mythical 34% by adding the 23% who want him to wait, and the 11% who never want any form of ETS. It would be just as logical to say Kevin Rudd has a base of 83% to work from. I know which one I would prefer.
Obviously the Liberal Party didn’t buy either Nelson’s line, or Shanahan’s opinion, and thus they rolled Nelson, and reverted to the let’s bring it in by 2012 policy.
It’s a big win for Turnbull, and in other circumstances would have been accompanied with a leadership spill and a new leader. But I’m guessing the Libs also took note of the other question posed in today’s Newspoll – the one which showed only 24% think Turnbull should lead the party (only 7% more than “uncommitted”).
For this week the leadership issue is unresolved, but as Shanahan wrote at the end of his column today:
He's [Nelson’s] convinced he's made the right judgment on an ETS, so convinced he's put everything on it to win.
He lost, and his leadership is now terminal.