How the Liberal Party just undermined the climate change skeptics.

If you live in Australia, it’s hard to have not been exposed to the turmoil sparked last week by the factional fights within the Liberal party over the ETS/CPRS legislation that was defeated in the senate today. With the leadership spill driven by the climate change skeptics within the party who believed that Malcolm Turnbull was doing the wrong thing by brokering a deal with the Labor party over the ETS legislation, believing the science needed more analysis or at the very least, needed to wait until after the United Nations Copenhagen climate change conference. The Liberal Party has in the process of electing their new leader Tony Abbott just ruined the best chance the climate change skeptics had in clawing back this issue from the hands of the Labor party.

Given the Liberals poor showing in the polls even before the ETS issue erupted (Worse than at the last election) the Liberals were likely to lose their majority in the senate at the next election. The Liberals only have a majority in the senate still due to the half senate elections cycle and the large number of seats Howard won in the 2004 federal election. With this in mind, the path Turnbull took in regards to the ETS was very sensible, he understood the likelihood of losing the ability to block the legislation after the next election, and regardless of his position on the science behind climate change knew that now was the time to negotiate a deal that would best serve his constituents. This opportunity existed because the Labor party is keen to be seen as a world leader with the ETS  and use it for political gain  around the Copenhagen conference, the time was right, Labor wanted action on the legislation before the next election, and the Liberals held the majority in the senate. But instead, by imploding over this issue the Liberal Party has ensured that after the next election, the Labor party will be in a position to pass whatever legislation they want without amendment.

While the climate change skeptics in  the Liberal Party never held a strong enough position to block the legislation past the next election, they held a strong enough position in the short term to win a number of important concessions from the Labor party to benefit their members. The Liberal Party has squandered this position, and ensured the worst possible outcome for their members and the climate change skeptics alike.

7 thoughts on “How the Liberal Party just undermined the climate change skeptics.”

  1. David,
    All good points. The Lib Party gets what it deserves after the fiasco of the past week. Like someone has said before it’s a pyrrhic victory for Abbot & co.

  2. Meanwhile, back at the Liberal ranch, The Mad Monk has made one helluvva target of himself. Given the emotions and activism that climate change and ETS etc provoke, you can’t help but wonder if he won’t be targeted by some radical activists now, possibly even in a direct manner, seeing as he’s set himself up very clearly as the only thing between Australia and an ETS. I think it was a stupid move on his part. But anyway…

  3. You assume that the ETS will survive a strong fear campaign on the subject of costs.

    Given the general whining nature of the media and ‘mums and dads’, a 60% increase in power bills, $120 Billion dollars in tax yada yada yada campaign may make more than a few think that another way would be a better idea.

    And that line hasn’t yet begun to be run by the Libs

  4. Not withstanding the scare campaign on the battlers I can tell you lots of the liberal left cant vote liberal now some are leaving the party like me, and all those womens issues, plus no stem cell research etc means no progressive person can- just ludites. Only if the Oz public is as stupid as the Liberal Party Room can this happen. Mind you they voted for Rudd. I put my faith in statistics though, no party that moves from centre to left or right has been elected from opposition, and parties that have moved in office usually lose or reduce their majorities. For us liberals we now want a damn good thrashing Ripping Yarn style so we can be reborne.

  5. I agree Steven, I heard 2 interviews the day after Abbott’s election -Abbott and Pyne – and both kept repeating ‘big new tax ‘etc..I also had to vote in the Bradfield by-election during the week and the people at the polling office, who were handing out flyers, had t-shirts saying NO CARBON TAX. Insighting fear in people is a recognised and higly successful campaign strategy. It will be interesting to see if Abbott et al’s extreme right wing views frighten voters more. @Steven

  6. Interesting article. I feel you are right in Turnbull’s assessment as to why he was sensible in pushing this CPRS legislation. I also think Labor’s response in saying they will give the Liberal Party one more chance to pass the legislation in Feb 2010 may also relfect Labors fear that a double dissolution could easily end up with the Greens with the balance of power in the senate. Then, the climate change skeptics, the coal industry and both the Liberal and Labor parties could have something to really worry about. Although I think Rudd would love to show off at Copenhagen, his fear of the results of a early double dissolution election or even the election due at the end of 2010 may also be high on his list.

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