Nov 29, 2009

Reflections on Turnbull and his party

For weeks and months I've thought Malcolm Turnbull was a disaster as Liberal leader. Definitely since the Godwin Grech business, and probably before then, back when he declared oppositi

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

For weeks and months I’ve thought Malcolm Turnbull was a disaster as Liberal leader. Definitely since the Godwin Grech business, and probably before then, back when he declared opposition to the second stimulus package.

It should never have been thus.  Putting aside my professional role for a moment, I had high hopes for Turnbull.  I knew the electoral timing was all wrong for him.  But I thought he could build on the unappreciated work of Brendan Nelson in moving the Liberals back to the centre ground and set the Liberals up to be a viable force in 2013, a healthy union of conservatives and progressives, with perhaps a dash of libertarianism (my own personal creed) thrown in.  And Turnbull fitted the bill perfectly – progressive, but with a strong belief in the core Liberal philosophy of personal freedom, immensely intelligent, a self-made man, charming, utterly ruthless.  If anyone was going to break the rule that Oppositions don’t defeat first-term governments, it would be him.

It didn’t play out that way, mostly because Kevin Rudd expertly responded to the global financial crisis and recession, and Turnbull took the disastrous decision to oppose him on the stimulus early this year.  At the time, I thought the Liberals were committing suicide, and the opinion polls ever since have confirmed that.

There are senior Liberals who also believe that was a mistake, but it’s all too late now.

And other, equally senior, Liberals have repeatedly pointed out Turnbull’s glaring failure as a leader: his inability to understand that he must bring his colleagues with him, not treat them like idiots.

The default Turnbull response to disagreement is to demolish whoever it is that’s unfortunate enough to disagree with him.  He can dish it out with a ferocity probably not seen in political life since Paul Keating.  He has no concept that someone treated that way may not forget about it, may be genuinely aggrieved by their treatment, may not be inclined to forgive the bloke who dished it out and get on with it.

That tendency was on display again on Tuesday when he unilaterally declared victory in the partyroom meeting and walked out.


Since Thursday night, we’ve seen the other side of that unwillingness to suffer fools.  Turnbull has been at his best.  Regardless of your politics, there’s something stirring about a leader who, facing overwhelming odds, simply grins and counter-attacks.  Turnbull also – separately – has what Civil War historian Shelby Foote, describing US Grant, called “four o’clock in the morning courage”, an ability to be told the worst and not merely stay calm but respond effectively, even seeing disaster as an opportunity as well as a threat.  The best military and political minds all have it.  Patton, for example, when faced with the looming disaster of the Battle of the Bulge, instinctively saw it not as threat but as a vast opportunity to end the war quickly by trapping much of the Wermacht in the salient.

Still, as journalists we’re paid to look beyond the bravado and self-belief and see what is reality and what is pure invention.  One man’s bravery in the face of overwhelming odds is another’s last days of the Third Reich.

And the reality is this: there really isn’t anyone other than Turnbull to lead this party.

Joe Hockey is regarded as a buffoon by the business community, allegedly key supporters of the Liberals.  His ministerial track record – as demonstrated expertly by Peter Martin on his blog – was awful.  His efforts as shadow Treasurer have been little short of embarrassing.  And about his putative deputy, the current and, if the polls are anything to go by, soon-to-be ex-Member for Dickson Peter Dutton, the less said the better.

As for Tony Abbott, well, when he called himself a divisive figure as recently as Friday, he was right on the money.  And as Turnbull has pointed out, he has held pretty much every position on the CPRS that it is possible to hold.

In any event, either way, a victory for anyone other than Turnbull on Tuesday morning will be a win for Nick Minchin, and it will be Minchin who will be leading the party, just like Barnaby Joyce effectively leads the Nationals.

Any option other than Turnbull at this point will be an electoral calamity for the Liberals.  Forget the nonsense about a Sunrise election between Hockey and Rudd.  The Rudd machine will devour Hockey, who in any event will stumble and bumble his way to polling day so badly there’s a risk his party will want to replace him even before then.  Abbott will reduce the party to a reactionary rump struggling to accept the 20th, let alone the 21st, century.

A vote to dispose of Turnbull on Tuesday will be an act of lunacy from the Liberals.  It will condemn Australia to a one-party government for much of the next decade. It will give the Rudd Government a virtual free hand, without effective scrutiny.  And it won’t solve a damn thing.

Anyone who wants a semblance of an effective Opposition should fervently hope for a Turnbull win.

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42 thoughts on “Reflections on Turnbull and his party

  1. Rollo


    Will need to read a bit more into your assertions and Treasury`s modeling before I would feel comfortable making a response that would have a solid enough foundation to withstand anything more intense than mere superficial scrutiny may bear. Suffice to say, I will be back, and I am willing to countenance the fact that I could be wrong about all this, and will admit as much, if it so proves.

  2. Frank Campbell

    Got it: “Treasury forecasts that the ETS would raise consumer prices on a one-off basis by 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent. Compare this with the price effect of Howard’s GST. The Treasury expected the GST would make a one-off price increase of 3.37 per cent. The ultimate reality was an increase of 3.1 per cent.”

    It’s strange logic. The GST was an exact impost on a known output. The ETS is the reverse. So, very hard to predict. The ETS also interacts with MRET, the other bogus scheme. Some $30 billion (estimates vary widely, not least because it’s all guesswork) is slated to be spent on wind energy in the next decade. As wind expands, new fossil fuel powergen has to be built because wind can’t provide baseload. Transmission lines have to be hugely upgraded to cope with wind’s surges. In the UK the National Grid says this could price wind “up to” 3000% more than FFuels. At present, wind costs around 250% more than conventional power. Solar and everything else has been strangled at birth. They’re aiming at 20% nominal capacity provided by wind. Denmark and Germany have nearly done this much and the results have been disastrous: highest power costs in Europe and a rash of new coal power stations being built to cover wind intermittency. Yup, this is errr, a long-winded explanation, but I bet Treasury hasn’t factored any of this in. Meanwhile, back at the tranche, many more billions are handed to the big “polluters” via the ETS, plus their power costs are soaring like everyone else’s. That’s just for starters- it does of course also depend on the actual cost of “carbon credits”, which is another unknown…someone should look at Treasury’s thinking on all this. The only way they can get to a mere 1 or 1/5% is by excluding many factors and/or minimising them to an unlikely degree. The GST was simple by comparison: the ETS/MRET calculations all depend on a raft of murky assumptions.

  3. Rollo

    Frank it was his column on Saturday`s SMH, 28th November. I normally wouldn`t look to Hartcher for economics advice either – when I am looking that is – but he is normally pretty credible when reporting political issues. I am not sure where he got his figures from, I would certainly be interested to find out.

  4. Frank Campbell

    Rollo…can’t see the Hartcher thing- can you give a date?

  5. Frank Campbell

    Nearly all these posts portray a white knight being dragged off his horse by a horde of Neanderthal trogs..maybe Malcolm Macbank isn’t a ruthless opportunistic lawyer after all, but in any case the trogs are doing the country a favour: the ETS is an expensive scam benefiting big capital “polluters” which penalises the rest of us for decades while actually delaying constructive action on GGs. Check out Kenneth Davidson’s article in The Age today. This tiny political Armageddon (or WWII if you prefer Bernard’s hyperbole) should lead to more rational AGW policy, i.e. policy that actually does something.

    Venise: You’re safe- Santamaria’s love child will never lead a political party in Oz, except perhaps Opus Gei.

    Rollo- I’ll look at Hartcher’s piece now…(though Hartcher is hardly the top of any list for econ. advice…)

  6. Rollo

    @Frank Campbell: care to support your theory of the ETS carrying brutal costs?

    Peter Hartcher, in the SMH, said predicted costs will rise by %1.5 compared to the GST which increased cost by %3.5.

  7. Bolly Knickers

    It will be a shame….a damn shame to see Turnbull ousted. A solid opposition is necessary to keep voters options open. Hockey will simply return the power of the LP back to the old guard- a group that just couldn’t get over the fact that a) their time was up and b) times had changed. The Liberal old guard are no different to the decaying old intelligentsia of the USSR…hell bent on retaining some type of power, even though the very foundations of that power had dissolved with the USSR itself. Well…those LP members hell bent on destroying Turnbull and the ETS are no different-they are hell bent on returning the party to the hey days of the Howard era. There’s one problem though…..that era has passed and the voters told them so by their electoral defeat in 2007.

    A Hockey leadership wouldn’t even make it to another election…I’d bet he’d quit in frustration (if he sacrifices his own policy beliefs and values) or be ousted yet again by those same rotten crusties (for not playing their deranged game).

    I’m not a Liberal voter but I’m furious at Turnbull’s treatment and a little saddened that this is happening so such a dedicated man.


  8. Paddlefoot

    Anyone who takes on the éminence grise – Minchin et al – is worthy of my respect. Talk about conspiracy theories. Time to really expose these reptiles.

  9. Venise Alstergren

    Frank Campbell: If Santamaria’s love-child gets the job, I’m leaving the country.

  10. Venise Alstergren

    Jack Jones: Thanks for the terrific Bob Carr article.

  11. Venise Alstergren

    Excellent article Bernard. And for the sake of democracy we need an opposition. IMHO there is no other choice but Turnbull. Everyone here has seen the dessicated remnants of the party left by John Howard. And a vote for Hockey, he seems a pleasant enough bit of fluff, nudge nudge, wink wink, and all that jazz, is a vote to return to the grim days of the Howard years.

    It is a terrible shame such a promising packet, Turnbull, came wrapped in an unpleasant, hectoring, and arrogant packaging. Because those who oppose him the most have exactly the same characteristics, but have learned to tone them down a bit.

    I wish to congratulate the Liberal party of Oz for remaining the party that promises to deliver nothing and is pre-destined to deliver nothing in the future. A party of vicious old men who should have had the decency to have resigned when Howard was kicked out. You all look as if you are chewing on prunes.

  12. 2 tanners

    It’d be great if there was a poll. Q1: How do you intend to vote next election? Q2: what issue would make you change your mind and vote for the other party? Q3: On that issue, what do you want to see happen?

    That’d sort out the sheep from the goats.

    The coalition anti-ETS mob have never answered the question: If we support this, who will those in our base who have problems change their vote to? They have forgotten that it’s all about grabbing the centre.

    I think BK’s right, but also that this view has no traction in the party room.

  13. SBH

    Hockey eh? well that should be good for laughs (if it wasn’t serious). However there may be a light Bernard. If Turnbull is rolled the party that meets after the next election my be better able to listen to someone who says ‘reach out to people who don’t vote for you’ than they are now. The Senate seems almost impervious to the will of the people but if we do get a DD I expect several Libs Senators will be targeted and those two things could make Turnbull’s return possible.

    In the end Bob Ellis is on the money. this crisis illuminates the absolute lack of ideology or principle or vision for the country at the heart of national and state politics

    And to develop one of Rollo’s points, how much longer will the ABC allow Bolt to masquerade as a journalist. His performance on Sunday was so partisan as to be ridiculous. If that’s all he’s there for put someone else in who can expostulate a view or analysis.

  14. John Humphreys

    @Jeff Waugh — what makes you think an ETS is more of a “market-based solution” than a carbon tax? That simply isn’t true. The vast majority of free-market economists prefer a carbon tax to a carbon trading system. This has always been the case. It is only John Howard and left-wing commentators (who often don’t understand markets) that persist with the fantasy that an ETS is more “market-based” than a simple tax.

  15. caf

    RattlesTheMost: The problem is that in order to win an election, the Liberals have to convince a bunch of electors who voted ALP last time to vote for them this time – even if they appeal to Liberal-voters so succesfully that 100% of them continue to vote Liberal – at the end of the day that’s not enough to win.

  16. jack jones

    Oh and as for Malcolm. The liberal party is too nutty to have him as a leader. He’ll be far better out of it and belting the bejeesus out of their real leader (Minchin that would be-whoever wins their ballot, clearly he’s the string puller from now on) from the sidelines. That could actually be the most significant public policy contribution of his entire career, ensuring that the nutjobs who think Wilson Tuckey’s view should prevail, and lets face it, that’s whats happening (think about that for a minute, Tuckey effectively the intellectual touchstone and driving force with Minchin running around implementing the numbers)-are exposed for all to see. Hockey can laugh and joke his way through a few touchy feely morning news programs, but he clearly has no substance on significant issues like this and as Mal has pointed out, he’ll just be a patsy for Minchin’s kooks. At least Barnaby admits that his thoughts have all the force of something from “bum-crack university”, we’ll give him points for that level of honesty, its just that not many people outside paid up National party whackers agree with him.

  17. jack jones

    Interestingly with the focus starting to come back onto the details of what, after all, is laregely a business as usual ETS the labor side is showing signs of panic that they may have to eventually deal with the Greens and actually focus on getting the scheme to reduce emissions as opposed to just hand over cash rewards to big polluters. See Bob Carr’s grumpy article on that topic here


    He seems to be panicking that the Greens will force the government to (gasp) follow some of Garnaut’s recommendations on making the ETS credible at reducing emissions as opposed to Garnaut’s recent analysis of the polluter handouts as the largest unjustified transfer of wealth and public policy faliure in Australia’s history. The guy who actually studied the workings of the scheme properly supports the Greener view and the labor hacks are terrified of having to actually implement something rational. The longer the delay goes on the more this will become apparent, so I say, delay away..maybe we’ll get something that really reduces emissions instead of 20 years of forking over cash to big coal and big aluminium for no return in terms of abatement.

  18. JamesK

    Bernard’s concern for Malcolm is vividly hypocritical.
    And the concocted concerned citizen motive is even more nausea inducing.

    Bernard you have reduced yourself to a parody as a political commentator.
    Start on the sauce and join your colleague MacCallum.
    At least his mouth foaming diatribes were occasionally entertaining.

    And please don’t insult me by your utterly shameless pretense at libertarianism.
    You know not what the word means.

    You are a progressive liberal.
    And at the extreme end of the spectrum.
    Don’t know why you opposed Obama.
    He’s right up your souless alley

  19. elei

    Great article – I agree with all said in this article. I just hope that the pollies are reading this and the supporting comments. Come on Joe – don’t do it. Malcolm, if you have to – start a new party.

  20. David Sanderson

    Along with Turnbull Ian Macfarlane deserves praise for forthrightly standing up against the troglodytes.

  21. EnergyPedant

    Basically Malcolm has said “Victory or Death”.

    Since he was constantly getting white-anted by the right he may as well actually fight for the soul of the party.

    Hockey becoming leader would be an absolute disaster. Not for anything wrong with Joe, but because he would be a progressive(ish) leader being dragged to the right by his kingmakers and constantly having to push agendas at odds with his natural inclination. Hockey and Turnbull are from my understanding very similar in policy terms.

  22. David Sanderson

    The personal trainer’s name is Kevin Rudd. He’ll be slicing off the kilos in a manner Shylock was never able to achieve.

  23. Frank Campbell

    David Sanderson: Uncle Joe is about to acquire a personal trainer…

  24. Frank Campbell

    John Humphreys says “It’s the outer-metro and regional seats that decide elections and it’s not clear how the average voter in Penrith or Ipswich is going to respond to an ETS election.”


    The sense of certainty in the corporatist ALP about the ETS is so strong they’re blinded to opinion beyond the last tram stop.

  25. David Sanderson

    Has body shape ever before played such a significant role in the rise of a politician? Put it this way if he looked like Kevin Andrews would he now be about to become the-really-rather-cheap Leader?

    Arise, inhale and expand Sir Joe.

  26. Frank Campbell

    I should have said that this analysis is predicated on Hockey leading the Libs. All bets are off if Santamaria’s love-child is elected…

  27. Frank Campbell

    Wow, Ulysses S. Grant, Patton and courage in the night…is this a brawl in the Australian Opposition we’re talking about? Bernard’s hyperventilating…easy there, deep breaths now…

    Bernard says: “A vote to dispose of Turnbull on Tuesday will be an act of lunacy from the Liberals. It will condemn Australia to a one-party government for much of the next decade.”

    Desire is driving thought here. Bernard sees Malcolm Macquariebank as a sane, modern, progressive Liberal, with a soupcon of libertarianism.(Not unlike Bernard’s own self-assessment) In fact Turnbull is almost a Rudd! But that’s the point- the Right is right: Turnbull the bellwether has led them into Rudd’s stockyard, and very late in the day they’ve twigged. No time for niceties, hence the carnage. The alternative was the political abattoir, a decade of submitting modifications to King Rudd’s grand plans. This coup is about who sets the agenda. The trigger for the breakout is the ETS, a scheme correctly rejected by the Greens as rewarding “polluters” and which will have no measurable effect on global warming- ever. It’s a staggeringly expensive gesture. The ETS also sets a precedent for Rudd to interfere with the prerogatives of big capital. Maybe the big end of town also woke in fright.

    Electoral disaster for the Libs? A decade of Rudd? Well, Rudd might well win three elections regardless, so hardly a bold prediction, but the Right knows that AGW scepticism is growing fast, even among Green voters. People are weary of climate millenarianism and the repression it engenders. They also know that few understood the brutal cost implications of the ETS. The burden would fall on poor and working class voters. The ETS is a regressive tax. The Libs should be able to make a convincing narrative out of all that. A respectable loss in 2010 will keep them in the game.

  28. anpl

    Bernard, if you are a libertarian, then I’m a Communist.

    Your insane prattlings on the stimulus confirm you are no libertarian.

  29. Jeff Waugh

    John Humphreys: Really? The Liberals should consider a centralised carbon tax instead of a market-based solution? I find this hilarious.

    The “Left” want action on climate change enough to propose a market-based solution which would otherwise be attractive to free-market conservatives… the “Right” can’t even seem to figure out the science let alone remember their economic fundamentals over the last four decades. 🙂

    (Were I more forgiving and prone to self-delusion, I’d perhaps grant that the 2007 GFC could have cooled them off trading systems altogether…)

  30. John Humphreys

    BK — I didn’t know you self-identified as a libertarian. This seems to be inconsistent with your support for interventionist macro-economics and enhanced government regulation of markets. I admit I haven’t researched your views, but from what I’ve read you seem to be a fairly standard social democrat economic interventionist… which is quite different to libertarianism.

    I disagree with the predictions of Liberal doom without Turnbull. The Liberals were already well down in the polls and Turnbull already has record-low levels of public support. Many who are supporting him now will never vote Liberal anyway. I doubt Abbott will do much better, but I doubt he’ll do much worse. He will get less support in inner-city metro seats… but most of those seats are dead-red anyway. It’s the outer-metro and regional seats that decide elections and it’s not clear how the average voter in Penrith or Ipswich is going to respond to an ETS election.

    I would like to see the Liberals consider a low carbon tax (with other tax cuts, and a McKitrick clause) for the next election. Abbott has shown some interest in this option in the past.

  31. Nigel Molesworth

    RattlesTheMost said “But it’s a total non-result for the Libs. ”

    There’s much in what you say. However, I think that the best thing for the Libs is to get this issue off the front page. They are not going to get anything out of it. Anything they do from now on will be looked at with cynicism. You probably heard Gillard on Insiders echoing Turnbull “Delay is denial”. A good result for the Libs would have been to get rid of this issue and later, start complaining about its implementation when it, inevitably, goes awry.

    Anyway, I think it’s all a bit theoretical now. Joe has been duchessed into believing he’s the only one who can unite the party. The big grin on his face when being pursued by journos, the meeting with Howard and later the meeting with Dutton means, pretty clearly I think, that he’s going to put his name forward. But I really think it’s a mistake for him and his party.

  32. RattlesTheMost

    True – Turnbull’s public standing will be huge if he hangs on. But among whom? Progressives who would actually vote Liberal aren’t exactly the most populous bunch.

    This is demonstrated fairly clearly in both NSW and VIC state politics, where Libs constitute two of the most ineffective (and irrelevant) oppositions in history. Why vote for wet Libs when they’re hardly distinguishable from Labor?

    The other thing that is being overlooked is the fact that if Turnbull wins in the party room on Tues, all he achieves is acquiescence in a Govt policy which most people think should be held back until after Copenhagen (according to the Galaxy poll).

    Turnbull’s position is a huge win for the govt, a big tick on an election promise, and a prize which Rudd has shamelessly pursued at any cost, even if that meant reducing the ETS to an absolute joke of a scheme.

    But it’s a total non-result for the Libs. If the passage of the ETS before Copenhagen gains any votes, it will be for Labor, not for the Libs. (Hence the overwhelming support for Turnbull from Labor and anyone to Labor’s left.)

    Meanwhile the option which clearly has majority public support – real action on climate change but only after Copenhagen – is still completely up for grabs. Surely that’s the position Hockey will take, with Minchin and the sceptics backing right off the denierspeak (as Minchin already appears to have done).

    On that analysis, the action-after-Copenhagen “Hockey” solution is the safest way forward for the Libs, not a Turnbull victory.

  33. FNQ

    No matter how much people want cool heads to prevail and the lunacy to end there is no hope of Turnball retaining leadership of the Liberal party for the present. He will loose the leadership and Abbott will replace him.

    The only questions are; will he sit on the front or back bench? and after the Liberals loose the next election will he offer his brand of libertarianism to the remnants of the Liberal party and offer a truly liberal alternative? Then again, (and this is why this slow motion car-crash is so enthralling) all bets are off. I wouldn’t discount a new party or a raft of Conservative Independents being returned if the Liberals go to the next election as a party of GW Deniers.

    Here’s another scenario: Turnbull resigns prior to the election, The Libs put up a ‘Denier’ and Wentworth votes in a Green…

  34. rich bowden

    Interesting analysis thanks.

    While much of the media has called the Liberal’s leadership ructions as a battle for the heart & soul of the party (progs vs trogs?), I wonder if it really is as cut and dried as that. When Brendan Nelson first stood for the leadership he allegedly did so on the platform of “I’m not Malcolm.” I think that, though Turnbull does sort of represent the more progressive wing of the party, there remains a great deal of personal animosity towards him from both wings of the Libs which has been expertly manipulated by Minchiniavelli (The Prince) around the ETS issue.

    I often think Turnbull would be better off leading his own independent party (MALP?).

  35. sean dwyer

    I think the issue is structural as you suggest in your previous article. Essentially the Liberal party is a collection of authoritarians who are from time to time whipped into a party by an opportunistic sociopath, its how they came into being. They have no real shape without a leader, so its no surprise that they’ve come to believe leaders solve everything. But by now the rusted-on have mostly rusted-away, the current generation of Liberals don’t stand for anything, they just jumped on a successful bandwagon and have no idea how to go forward now that it’s failed. Read The Authoritarians sometime, it explains their mindset better than I can.

  36. smallvox

    It would be a Good Thing if the Right Wing Wreckers did, having lost, take their bat and ball and go home. Problem is they don’t accept the umpire’s decision, but instead hang around bullying the other kids. Should Turnbull survive the week as leader I somehow doubt Minchin, Abbott, Joyce, Tuckey et al will slink quietly away.

  37. Rollo

    If Turnbull gets through I will vote for him – I am in his electorate of Wentworth – and the Liberals at the next Federal Election. Should this turn out to be true, it will be the first time I have voted for the Libs in what will then be my 6th Federal Election since turning 18 in 1995. I have always voted ALP previously.

    If Turnbull is ousted, I can`t see myself contemplating voting for the Liberal Party – save for the NSW State election – at any time in the next 10 years, especially if the party is controlled by the likes of Nick Minchin, Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Sophie Mirabella, Corey Bernardi and others of similar socio-economic conservative beliefs.

    I do not seriously see how Joe Hockey can lead that Party with any integrity if he does end up leader and they do absolutely nothing regarding AGW (anthropogenic global warming for those that have not read that particular acronym before). I do not lay claim to being an expert on the scientific methodology that arrives at the AGW theory for Climate Change (although I have perused the IPCC Reports, the Garnaut Report, the Plimer arguments and the scientific rebuttals of his arguments) for it is a very difficult inter-disciplinary method to masticate, and harder still to swallow, but from what I have read, I have come to the conclusion that I am %70 in favour of the AGW theory, and %30 skeptical.

    This leads me to think that something needs to at least be tried in an effort to reduce our collective carbon emissions. Even if we are not the main-driver of Climate Change, we can not be certain – as much as Andrew Bolt will try and convince you otherwise – that we are not significantly impacting the climate systems. If it is within our power to do something, and we decide not to, what would that say about us collectively as humans?

    To digress further and take Bolt`s bait regarding what he said on this morning`s Insiders that the ETS is a Great Green Tax (how many times did he mention it? you could tell he was terribly pleased with himself for being so pithy even though I am not certain that he is the actual inventor of this phrase), what is inherently wrong with making energy prices higher? Surely this is the best short-term mechanism for encouraging more efficient energy consumption on consumers and business alike, as long as it isn`t so cost prohibitive as to effect lower-income families – who will no doubt get some sort of Government assistance anyway – and business employment growth.

    I have not read, but I will be gladly proven wrong, where AGW skeptics such as Bolt, ever address the most serious long term issue of energy security. I have read reports that say that Globally we have about 130 years worth of Coal, about 40-60 years worth of Oil, about 80 years worth of Natural Gas, and about 80 years worth of the particular form of Uranium used for nuclear generation left (and I don`t think these estimates actually factor in projected world population growth up to 9 billion people in the next 50 years); so, notwithstanding the potential discovery of some other form of fuel we can burn, is it not wise for us to start seriously investing in renewable energy sources and the technologies that can help us store effectively store base-loads of these renewable energies? It makes sense to me. I think we should look at this as an opportunity rather than view it under a diffused negative lamp.

    All that is to say (apologies for the digression) I think Turnbull is the only serious contender to lead the Liberal Party. He will need to start showing less political naivety if he does get the chance to continue leading of course.

  38. NickD

    If Turnbull survives, who’ll be his shadow ministry? About a third of them have resigned in protest against his leadership and several have since publicly criticised him.

  39. Mobius Ecko

    Problem is RattlesTheMost is that relying on just the grass root Liberal supporter base for survival is to go extinct as that base is declining, as Possum and others have shown statistically several times. The conservative core is dwindling so the future lies with the progressives and the centre on all sides of the divide, Rudd knows this as does Turnbull, who both stand on the same ground. To call Rudd a socialist or lefty is to have it wrong and those who label him Howard lite or Howard like are closer to the truth of it.

    The Liberals must take voters away from Labor and not just attempt to hang onto their core, to not do so is to be in the wilderness for a long time to come. The Minchin dinosaur way is to go the way of the dinosaurs. Again their are some recent stats out showing the absolute drumming the Liberals would get if the opposition took the Minchin position, at least with Turnbull they could stem the bleeding just a little at the cost of a few of their core voting Greens, they will never vote Labor.

  40. Nigel Molesworth

    I think you’ve called this one wrong RattlesTheMost. If Turnbull is leader after this, his prestige will be immense. He will have stared down the Right Wing Wreckers, the people who wanted to take their bat and ball and go home after having lost. There’s already a lot of respect for him for having stood up for something he believes in. He has shown, as Bernard has said, that he has great courage and great strength. The Liberals don’t believe in much but they respect strong leaders.

    I think even the Grech episode will be buried as a regrettable escapade by the (marginalised) Eric Abetz. No. If Turnbull survives he won’t win in 2010 but it won’t be the catastrophe it would otherwise be. There will still be a Liberal Party to fight again with a good chance in 2013. I doubt that it will be led by Turnbull, but it will have a fighting chance. By then there will be Rudd-Gillard leadership tensions and the government will be getting a bit old. They’ll have a chance. You put Hockey in as Minchin’s bitch or even worse, a joke candidate like Abbott and there’s a good chance there won’t be a Liberal Party around 2013.

  41. RattlesTheMost

    One oversight: a vote to retain Turnbull will most certainly deliver an electoral calamity for the Liberals – probably the worst result of all.

    Progressive libertarians are far more likely to vote any which way but Liberal at the next election. Turnbull’s popularity as opposition leader might be soaring among Labor voters (and MPs!), but not among anyone who’d actually vote for him at an election.

    Meanwhile the conservative grassroots backlash which has spurred the likes of Andrews, Abbott and Minchin into action is real and palpable. A vote for Turnbull alienates these, who are already talking of supporting the Nationals.

    Were Turnbull to stay on, the smashing he receives at the next election would utterly annihilate his credibility as leader. He’d be gone anyway.

    Electoral oblivion is already certain. Turnbull’s demise (at least for the next few years) is also guaranteed. The only question is, which provides a more reliable base for the Liberals’ future – the conservative core, or the progressive libertarians? You say progressive libertarians, but I wouldn’t be so sure.

  42. Steve K

    Hopefully some of the undecided in the party take note. My guess is that they’ll allow themselves to be bullied by the right wing nutters and Turnbull will get rolled. I agree with most of what you’ve said especially the second last paragraph.

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