27 November 2009

Malcolm the Manchurian

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The Liberal Party of Australia is currently undergoing a purge. It is quite spectacular. A technicolour yawn of conflicting principles, ideology and power lust is being spewed out across the pages of the press, on the current affairs programmes and in the 'sphere.

Just over a year ago the Party Room removed Brendan Nelson from the leadership in favour of Malcolm Turnbull, ostensibly because Brendan was more circumspect than Malcolm about the pace at which or whether Australia should introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme. Brendan wanted to wait until after Australia had seen what the other nations of the world, mainly the big emitters like China, India and the US, were prepared to commit to before Australia made its commitment. Malcolm wanted to push ahead with an ETS before Copenhagen in the belief that this position would neutralise the electorate characterising the Party as unconcerned about Climate Change. Mal won. Brendan has now been given a gig as ambassador to NATO in faraway Brussells by his opponent Kevin Rudd. Boy does the Liberal Party now wish he was still around.

Most thought Mal's approach to climate politics was just tactics, to prevent Rudd positioning the Coalition in a perceived electorally unpopular posture. Whether they agreed with him or not on an ETS, they saw some political merit in Mal's argument and were prepared to give him a go at putting a dent in Rudd's popularity, since Brendan was languishing in the polls.

But as the year has unfolded we've now discovered something about Mal that few of us knew. He's not only forceful and ambitious, he's also a true believer. He was partially forgiven for his intemperance and unlucky judgement in prematurely going for Rudd's jugular on Utegate before the evidence was in. He was largely though reluctantly ceded the benefit of the doubt that this folly was just a temporary lapse and that he would regain his poise and luck and find new and better ways to take the fight to his Labor opponents.

How wrong this assessment has proved to be. Last night at a 7 pm media conference Mal showed us that he was not a clever tactician on this at all; he is in fact a passionate believer in Anthropogenic Climate Change and was supporting Labor's ETS because of the imperative for moral leadership in the world by Australia, in making economic sacrifices for the good of the planet and our children and our childrens' children.

Who'da thunk it eh?

Mal's media conference was an impassioned defence of the Labor Government's latest proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill. It is currently being considered by the Senate, after some massive changes and concessions that Mal had secured for all Australians in negotiations with the Government.

His stated position is that "We must be a party committed to action on climate change. Anything else is irresponsible ..."

The Liberal/National Coalition still has the power to vote down Labor's CPRS legislation by joining with with the Greens and Independents who oppose it in the Senate, where together they have the numbers. But no, Mal, the Party Leader reckons that this newly negotiated CPRS Bill, with much larger rebates being given to fossil fuel energy suppliers and with all agricultural industry being removed from the scheme, will not just mean less Australian jobs being destroyed because of the scheme, it will also be better for the planet!

He is clearly conceding, in saying this, that the CPRS does serious damage to jobs here. And at the same time he says that because the newly negotiated CPRS is kinder on carbon emitters, it will be better for the environment. Damage to jobs and prosperity is the main reason why responsible citizens in his own party are justly very wary of this scheme. And his claim that his new softer scheme is better for the environment, just looks plain silly. He seems to have inadvertantly made the case against supporting the CPRS for those who oppose him on this.

Yet, typically, the media commentators are not highlighting the manifest inadequacies of the content of his self defence. They are only interested in the outcome of the sporting contest. So the press ignores the ridiculousness of Malcolm's claims, only concentrating on his amazing open attack on the credibility and wisdom of other parliamentary members of the very Party he purports to lead.

It now appears that Malcolm is no different from Rudd on this. He just wants to be able to parade his moral vanity to the world by stating that he is standing for a higher cause than mere Australian prosperity. This ETS legislation is required in the name of the planet. All Australians and the other nations of the world, must follow his noble and magnificent self sacrificial lead on this.

I'm not sure if, when Malcolm gets rolled by his Party on Monday, Kevin will give him one of those cushy government jobs, like he did to Mal's earlier rivals for the Liberal Party leadership, Peter Costello and Brendan Nelson. But he should, because Malcolm deserves a big reward from the ALP. He has done more to contribute to Kevin Rudd's prospects of remaining Prime Minister than anyone in the Australian Labor Party itself. The Ruddbot can now go to Copenhagen and the next election with bragging rights, and the fawning media in Australia will see to it that he gets only credit and praise for this appalling piece of legislation, that can only seriously injure Australia's future prosperity.

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