Lasty week, Aussie MP Malcolm Turnbull was ousted by Tony Abbot as leader of the Australian Liberal Party (equivalent ot our Conservatives) and head of the official opposition. The issue that did it was his support of the government's emissions trading scheme (ETS), and indeed his ouster has put this scheme on ice for the time being.
Yesterday, a blog post appeared on Mr. Turnbull's website. I have excerpted my favorite bits:
While a shadow minister, Tony Abbott was never afraid of speaking bluntly in a manner that was at odds with Coalition policy.
So as I am a humble backbencher I am sure he won't complain if I tell a few home truths about the farce that the Coalition's policy, or lack of policy, on climate change has descended into.
So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without any cost is, to use a favourite term of Mr Abbott, "bullshit." Moreover he knows it.
It is not possible to criticise the new Coalition policy on climate change because it does not exist. Mr Abbott apparently knows what he is against, but not what he is for.
Now politics is about conviction and a commitment to carry out those convictions. The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is "crap" and you don't need to do anything about it. Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing.
Tony himself has, in just four or five months, publicly advocated the blocking of the ETS, the passing of the ETS, the amending of the ETS and, if the amendments were satisfactory, passing it, and now the blocking of it.
Not that anyone would doubt it, but I will be voting for the ETS legislation when it returns in February and if my colleagues have any sense they will do so as well. If the legislation is passed, incorporating as it does the amendments Ian MacFarlane negotiated with Penny Wong, then the issue will be settled. It is manifestly in the national interest and in the interest of the Liberal Party that it be so.
To put what has happened in Australia in a North American context--there has been a battle within the Australian political Right, and the teabaggers have won. For the time being. For, as a result, the movement has split into its adult vs. whackjob wings, with people like Turnbull pleading for reason and threatening to cross the floor on the next ETS vote if his party continues down the road to self-immolation.
Similar fault lines exist within the ranks of Canadian Conservatives, and can be exploited, which is why "Iggy's epiphany" on green issues is good news.
PS. Someone should show this to Angelo Persichilli--this is what an intra-party insurrection looks like.