Liberal Party shootout brings changing of the guard

Or does it?

The Betoota Advocate says:

    In breaking news out of the nation’s capital, a rich white dude from Sydney has replaced another rich white dude from Sydney as the Prime Minister.


    in even more sensational news, a rich white woman has been replaced by a rich white man for the Deputy Prime Ministership, with Josh Frydenberg taking over from Julie Bishop.

Scott Morrison, the new rich dude, is selling himself as a generational change and it’s all about you, the voter. A 64 year-old and a 62 year-old have been replaced by a 50 year-old and a 47 year-old.

Certainly we dodged a bullet in what may have been Malcolm Turnbull’s finest hour in thwarting Peter Dutton’s rebellion. So where does that leave us, especially in relation to climate change?

Turnbull promised much. An excellent article by Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy reviews his record. In a 2010 speech launching the Beyond Zero Emissions 100 per cent renewable energy plan Turnbull said:

    “Sometimes the task of responding to the challenge of climate change may seem too great, too daunting. It is a profound moral challenge, because it is a cross generational challenge. We are asking our own generation to make decisions; to make sacrifices, to make expenditures today so as to safeguard our children, their children and the generations that come after them. It truly requires us to think as a species, not just to think as individuals.”

As to his recent experience in government, Turnbull was frank about what he faced. In an answer to Laura Tingle he said that his priority was to maintain party unity. You can listen to him say it at SBS or read the summary at Carbon Brief:

    Amid his departure, the outgoing prime minister has commented that climate change policy is “very hard” for the Liberal-National Coalition because it is treated as an ideological matter with “bitterly entrenched” views, the Guardian writes, in a separate piece. Speaking at his final press conference this morning, Turnbull warned: “In terms of energy policy and climate policy, I think the truth is that the Coalition finds it very hard to get agreement on anything to do with emissions…The emissions issue and climate policy issues have the same problem within the Coalition of…bitterly entrenched views that are actually sort of more ideological views than views based, as I say, in engineering and economics.” Turnbull goes on to compare the issue of climate change to same-sex marriage, in that they were both seen as an “insoluble problem” for the Coalition that his government had been “able to sort out”. (Emphasis added)

(Based on Turnbull warns against ‘politics of race’ and says climate policy ‘very hard’ for Coalition at The Guardian.)

He knew. Turnbull knew when he made concession after concession, choosing party unity and political gain over the future of the planet. He knew that when he accused Labor of basing their policy on ideology, contrasting the Coalition approach of a policy based on science and engineering, that he was lying and that the reverse was true.

Among ABC political journalists there is now a received wisdom that the rebellion was about revenge, that the whole thing was essentially personal. Andrew Probyn and Patricia Karvelas were snowed by Matthias Cormann (I heard them talk to him on NewsRadio in the afternoon, and predicted Probyn’s judgement on TV last night) who said the spill was all about achieving party unity, when in truth he didn’t want to talk about the real reasons.

Laura Tingle has a broader view, as does Judith Brett, who Tingle quotes at length, but I draw attention to the interactive box in Tingle’s piece on how the leadership spill developed.

On August 14:

    A majority of Coalition MP’s endorse the National Energy Guarantee, setting the scene for a showdown with Labor.

On August 17:

    Malcolm Turnbull and his senior ministers agree to dump plans to legislate the emissions reduction target associated with the NEG, amid rising chatter about a challenge from Peter Dutton. The move addressed the principal demand of those threatening to cross the floor. (Emphasis added)

Then Peter Dutton resigned and events flowed from there.

  • Certainly there was revenge on Tony Abbott’s part as well as differences in policy.
  • Certainly the many conservatives, not just the hard-core, thought Turnbull was taking the party to the left.
  • Many never trusted Turnbull, because he had been close to Neville Wran and flirted with standing for the Labor Party.
  • Queensland LNP President Gary Spence came out in open revolt against Turnbull, saying that Dutton could hold every LNP seat in Qld and possibly gain some. In the CM today he said he had wanted Dutton to translate “party values” into legislation.
  • Aaron Patrick consulted John Wanna and came up with a different idea – Peter Dutton’s leadership campaign is about winning the Liberal Party, not the election. Peter Dutton’s backers prime aim was not to win the election, rather to wrest control of the Liberal Party from the liberal Liberals for the next 10 years.
  • Tim Colebatch a bit earlier in A party too divided to rule says that the Liberal Party has no “cohesive set of beliefs or values,” and can unite only in opposition to others’ policies. Labor has been the dominant party of government in Australia since 1983; the Liberal Party is essentially a protest party, but hopelessly divided internally on climate change.
  • So there were many reasons, but climate change was the issue that broke party disunity open.

    Looking to the men of the future, Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal into parliament in February 2017, for reasons still unknown. I wrote about it in Politicians lie, while corporates game the electricity system:

      politics reached a new level of absurdity last week, as Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal into the parliament, which ended up between a crazed Barnaby Joyce’s legs, while in Question Time Turnbull’s answer to every question about the omnibus bill to change social security entitlements (and save a heap of cash) was to rant about Bill Shorten, blackouts and dreaded renewable energy in South Australia.

      All the while, fossil fuel generators are gaming the system, to extract more from electricity consumers, while the market regulator ends up splitting the profits.

    Giles Parkinson and Sophie Vorrath look at ScoMo’s record on climate and energy, and it isn’t pretty.

    He does have one point in his favour. In April Scott Morrison blasts coal rebels, says new coal power twice as expensive.

    Other than that it is mostly combative crap that emanates from his flapping mouth. For example he described the big Tesla battery it as being as useful as the Big Banana. Parkinson and Vorrath say:

    ScoMo on Queensland’s 50 per cent renewable energy target for 2030:

      “It’s nuts … because it means people under this system will have to pay more and it would probably mean they would be subsidising emissions reduction in NSW… I think it’s a muppet of a proposal.”

    ScoMo on Federal Labor’s targets:

      a “job crunching, economy munching, carbon tax on steroids”.

    ScoMo does have a reputation for listening to alternative views. Apparently at their party conferences the ‘liberals’ and ‘conservative’ hold separate dinners. ScoMo is the only politician to attend both.

    However, it is quite evident that ScoMo doesn’t have two genuine thoughts to rub together on climate change. He says his priorities are the drought, and then dealing with Bill Shorten.

    For Frydenberg’s position we go back to the post What the biffo between Weatherill and Frydenberg really means:

    The money quote from Jay Weatherill’s outburst was this:

      “Josh Frydenberg was humiliated back in December. We were working with him to introduce an emissions intensity scheme. He knows that. It was well advanced. It was about to happen. Coal interests in the federal Coalition government basically cut him down before he even had a couple of hours explaining it.”

    Frydenberg worked with Weatherill on the emissions intensity scheme after the SA blackouts, but when he floated the idea in public, it didn’t last half a day before Turnbull cut him off at the knees.

    Remember Clive Hamilton said:

      A reliable source told me that the Nationals keep a document signed by Turnbull promising that he will never support an emissions trading system.

    Since then Frydenberg has basically been talking crap about climate change, picking up his lines from Turnbull.

    Now he says that the NEG should be left in the final form inherited from Turnbull, which basically means dumping the NEG and focussing on prices. He has no stomach for revisiting the issue, and is happy to hand it on the new minister.

    Now the talk in the AFR and the Courier Mail is that the energy portfolio may be handed to Angus Taylor. Phillip Coorey (can’t find the link) said Taylor having to meet with business leasers and the energy stakeholders would teach him a thing or two.

    Problem is, he already knows it all. In June 2017, Coorey wrote Forget Tony Abbott, it’s Angus Taylor who’s calling the shots on Finkel.

    Andrew Tillett says:

      Speculation abounds Mr Taylor could be handed the poisoned chalice of energy.

      Mr Taylor is regarded as an energy policy guru by conservative backbenchers and, as a consultant with Port Jackson Partners and McKinsey & Co before entering politics, advised the energy sector.

      Appointing Mr Taylor to the key portfolio would means he would need to develop a new energy policy that satisfies pro-coal climate change sceptics while attempting to offer electricity generators the certainty they crave for investment decisions.

    Here’s what Wikipedia says:

      On renewable energy, Taylor was a speaker at the “Wind Power Fraud Rally” organised by the anonymous anti-wind blog and hosted by Alan Jones on 18 June 2013 in Canberra.

      In a 2013 letter to the editor, Taylor stated that he became engaged in “the wind farm debate” in approximately 2003 when a plan was announced to build turbines on a ridge behind his boyhood home, referring to the Boco Rock Wind Farm approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from Nimmitabel,[14] which commenced construction in August 2013.

      On energy policy, Taylor has called on the Coalition government to reduce its support for wind farms and is concerned with Australia’s renewable energy target (RET) based on a belief that renewable energy projects, in particular wind, are increasing electricity costs and a belief that there are cheaper carbon reduction methods.

        I am not a climate sceptic. For 25 years, I have been concerned about how rising carbon dioxide emissions might have an impact on our climate. It remains a concern of mine today. I do not have a vendetta against renewables. My grandfather was William Hudson – he was the first Commissioner and Chief Engineer of the Snowy Scheme, Australia’s greatest ever renewable scheme. He believed in renewables and renewables have been in my blood since the day I was born.
        — Angus Taylor, Wind Power Fraud Rally, 18 June 2013

      Taylor has referred to anthropogenic climate change as “the new climate religion” telling Parliament that “religious belief is based on faith not facts. The new climate religion, recruiting disciples every day, has little basis on fact and everything to do with blind faith.”

      Taylor has argued that lower-emission natural gas is a “better way to reduce carbon emissions” and Australia can supply countries such as China and India “with the energy they need to continue their rise.”

    To borrow from Xavier Herbert, Poor fellow, my country!

    Ben Potter has an article Snubbing clean energy boom could cost Coalition billions:

      Coalition members of Federal Parliament who think walking away from Paris carbon emissions reduction commitments is just a harmless way to appeal to conservative voters might have to think again.

      The boom in wind and solar energy, and storage, that has been partly stimulated by the government’s stop-start pursuit of Australia’s Paris emissions targets is worth tens of billions of dollars – and it’s playing out in their electorates.

      Turning their backs on these projects in the vain hope a new prime minister can bring coal generation investments back means snubbing thousands of construction jobs in their electorates to pursue coal technology that no serious generation investors want to build and that banks have been warned off by their regulator.


      Bloomberg New Energy Finance puts the pipeline of permitted wind and solar projects at 16,600MW worth an estimated $27.7 billion. They’re in every state, mainly in rural Liberal and National Party federal electorates.

      Next up is a tsunami of projects whose developers are seeking planning approvals. BNEF has tallied up these projects at 30,000MW worth an estimated $46 billion. To these can be added pumped hydro and battery storage projects with a total power of 10,600MW.

      The total pipeline is worth more than $80 billion. A lot of these hopefuls won’t get finance but even if a quarter do, that’s at least $20 billion of investments and thousands of jobs. (Emphasis added)

    Will the sun set on renewable energy?

    Politicians make choices, but we choose them.

    What are we going to do?

    16 thoughts on “Liberal Party shootout brings changing of the guard”

    1. I’ve published this with the warning that I’ll do a proof-read and final edit after the NRL game tonight.

    2. In the mean time, price gouging by the electricity system is functioning as a defacto carbon tax that is very successfully driving investment in renewable energy by people and businesses that just want to avoid high power costs. Solar PV is particularly attractive because it can be done in small steps, is not vulnerable to fuel price hikes, does not come with noise or pollution problems and can double as roofing.

    3. Lots of typos and stuff, but the main thing is I added this to the section where I was canvassing reasons for the Dutton rebellion:

      Tim Colebatch a bit earlier in A party too divided to rule says that the Liberal Party has no “cohesive set of beliefs or values,” and can unite only in opposition to others’ policies. Labor has been the dominant party of government in Australia since 1983; the Liberal Party is essentially a protest party, but hopelessly divided internally on climate change.

      Colebatch’s article in Inside Story, brought to my notice by John D comes from 5 August, but is of high interest in relation to clime change.

    4. Disgust. Loathing. Contempt. I’ll bet I’m not the only one who has these feelings towards the irresponsible and very, very expensive boofheads who still infest our federal parliament.

      I definitely do believe revenge played a major part in this costly farce. Those offshore who interfere in Australia’s internal affairs would certainly find that inciting revenge was a cheaper and more effective motivator for getting their own way here than bribing or blackmailing native politicians.

      “What are we going to do?”

      Outlaw the LNP – but since this cannot be achieved immediately then disband it.
      It is no longer a political party but a private fun club.
      Let’s all start hounding and pestering anyone connected with the LNP until they resign and, if they are MHRs or Senators, they sit on the cross-benches.
      There are a dozen and one other political parties former members of the defunct LNP can join, so they are spoilt for choice.

      There is no excuse whatsoever for allowing the broken LNP to continue stuffing up our lives.

    5. They are definitely not a Liberal party if Liberalism is defined as:

      Liberalism, political doctrine that takes protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual to be the central problem of politics. Liberals typically believe that government is necessary to protect individuals from being harmed by others, but they also recognize that government itself can pose a threat to liberty.

      unless you define “individuals” as people who are well off.
      They are definitely not a conservative party unless you exclude social justice and the environment from things that should be conserved.
      GB: I think that once you start outlawing parties it won’t be long before people like you and I find ourselves outlawed.

    6. Almost totally agreed on that John.
      Except some, even the last Leader, appear not to have joined because of the principles outlined in their Constitution but rather out of some sort of narcissism.

      It’s a problem across all parties given the nature of the job and exposure it brings.
      I would guess at far higher levels than is general society, except maybe the entertainment industry and media industry.

    7. zoot:
      Thanks for that link to Dr Kevin Bonham.
      He seems to know his stuff though I still feel that 2PP is both blatant electoral fraud, and, over-simplistic mumbo-jumbo.
      Kevin Rudd, though he had an unpleasant personality and made enemies easily was not sacked for that; it was that the Chinese preferred to have their colonial maharajahs and native chieftains docile, ignorant and compliant, (as does any imperial power).

      Had to chuckle at Bonham’s remark, “He gave the impression of trying on ideas not because he believed them but for the enjoyment of arguing a case as if still in a debating team or a law court.”
      That remark applies to the bulk of those who infest our parliaments. How the blue blazes can anyone dare to call a national assembly that is chock-a-block full of lawyers “Representative Government”?

      John D.:
      I can appreciate your alarm at calling for the ban of any political party – but what else can you do to stop this herd of proven born-losers, blunderers and dullards from causing us all even more grief and from destroying even more of our wealth?

      Thanks for that definition of Liberalism, John. It should be carved in stone – but they will probably wash your mouth out with soap for having the audacity to mention it.

    8. GB: One of the real scandals is that the single member electoral system allows the Nationals to get more than 3% of the seats with about 3% of the vote because their supporters are concentrated in a few key seats.
      My preferred system is this one based on 3 member electorates.

    9. Excellent, John.
      Seem to recall disagreeing with you on whether that should be a 3- or a 4-member electorate and a couple of other minor aspects – but anyway, I’ve downloaded your 2017 article onto this computer. Bloody brilliant. If it could ever be brought in, we would have an outbreak of representative government – and the corrupters of our politicians and other decision-makers would out in the wilderness “wailing and gnashing their teeth”.

    10. Four Corners tonight in an episode titled A form of Madness gave many reasons why the whole schmozzle happened. Sometimes the ABC is very thorough, but misses the main point staring at them.

      When they quoted Turnbull as saying he did everything to keep the party together, they should have pointed out that his final effort was to shop the future of the planet and the human race by essentially nixing the NEG. Yet it wasn’t enough. Dutton and the ‘conservatives’ not only wanted to bury the climate policy deep and roll a big stone over the grave so it was never to be revived, they also wanted to actively destroy the planet by building new coal-fired power stations.

    11. Yesterday, posted online at the SMH is an article by Peter Hannam headlined Can’t vote Liberal ‘in good conscience’: Alex Turnbull blasts climate stance. The article includes:

      In a wide-ranging interview just days after his father lost power in a party room putsch, the Singapore-based fund manager told Fairfax Media the Liberal Party faced being hijacked by financial interests that stood to make windfall profits if coal-related assets were bolstered by taxpayers.

      Alex Turnbull on efforts to keep Liddell and Gladstone power stations open beyond their engineered operating life:

      Worse, the operators of such plants as Liddell and Gladstone ran the risk of a “horrific industrial accident” that could literally cook unfortunate employees like a Chinese dumpling.

      Will ScoMo be swayed by ‘Coalshevick’ political pressure or take note of the high risks and costs to keep Liddell going beyond 2022?

    12. Thanks GB: One of the key advantages of the 3 member electorates is that electorates don’t have to be the same size and who forms government cant be changed by border location or where supporters live.

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