The unravelling of the Liberal Party continued early this afternoon. Malcolm Turnbull won the leadership 48-35, but don’t imagine for a moment that this will end the turmoil.
Last Wednesday, in this space, we noted Senator Nick Minchin’s recently-developed strategy for the future of the soul of the Liberal Party — “It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it”, in the words of the American major who ordered the destruction of the Village Ben Tre during the Vietnam war.
Yesterday, in the Liberal Party room, another top general joined Senator Minchin on his carpet bombing mission. Andrew Robb, probably even more respected within the party because he is not perceived as a rusted-on ideologue, declared his strong opposition to the party’s position on the proposed CPRS and, therefore, to its leadership. Like Minchin, Robb is a shrewd political tactician who understands that words can be bullets, or even bombs, when they are delivered with precision timing.
Malcolm Turnbull now knows that that he has lost the support, in public, of his party’s conservative conscience. Even worse, he appears to have lost the support of Andrew Robb, one of his most influential supporters as leader.
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The degree of political climate change inside his party, despite this afternoon’s clear vote for Turnbull, suggests that the Liberal village, like Ben Tre, will soon need to be rebuilt from the rubble. Which is hardly a great outcome for the state of the Australian polity.