Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The right won, a great day!

What would Robert Menzies make of this day? Three Catholics, fighting over the ruins of his Liberal Party. Annabel Crabb ABC

Obviously Australia’s public are more concerned about the need for climate change mitigation than our politicians are. The circus of the Liberal Party leadership battle crossed an indistinct range from supporting the Rudd governments ineffective Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to opposing any action at all. The sad bottom line is that the by-play rules out any substantive debate on effective approaches to climate change potential.

The deposed leader, Malcolm Turnbull, was in favour of an agreed watered down version of a watery approach. The Liberal right (define right as self serving bastards) candidate was the generally despised Tony Abbot. In the middle is aspiring, but not just yet, leader Joe Hockey. I don’t like Turnbull particularly, but for the Liberals, any other choice spells disaster at the polls.

So have a look at the style of our new opposition leader: At a meeting with right wing brokers and Joe Hockey, designed to place him as their compromise candidate, Hockey refused to go full on anti climate control. Abbott eventually lost his temper.

"So," he summarised bitterly. "Malcolm Turnbull's for the ETS. I'm against the ETS. And Joe - nobody knows what the f**k you stand for." What he meant is that you are not firmly supporting our stance.

A sweet sweet day

I should explain why, as a progressive, I should delight in the vicious, self serving extremists should take control of the Liberal Party. In my youth I was attracted to the Liberal philosophy, or to be more exact, Keynesianism and social democracy.

Being very active in the party during the 1970s I found most of my effort was fighting against the incursion of the extreme right in the party, alliances with outfits like the John Birch Society and others. We fought hard and produced party rules to stop dual memberships, but in the end that only drove the obvious underground and these people did dominate; the dream being realised by the slimy toad John Howard.

I expect my actions back then would not have made a difference, but things have changed again now. Let them show their true colours, let the electorate see them for what they are. I would have given Joe Hockey until April, had he won, to be knifed by the right. Had Turnbull won he would probably have gone by late Feb. But these leaves wonderful opportunities for the government.

Kevin Rudd has stayed right out of this circus, but I expect he will use the Liberal climate change rejection in the Senate to trigger a wonderful local political coup know as the ‘double dissolution’. That means calling an election where both houses and all senators must face re-election. Almost certainly, under Tony Abbot, the Liberals will be gutted at an election. Not destroyed, but I suspect an almost surgical removal or the right. Fortunately the Greens will probably pick up some of the Senate positions, but not enough to drive real change.

Well politics is, in the end, about compromise and with hope we’ll pick up a parliament ready to move forward at least. My personal revenge will be to see the extremist element (I don’t really accept that we have philosophical conservatives here) dumped from public office and real liberals allowed to return to the party intended by Menzies.

With that I’m heading back to the bush and a news void.