Nov 25, 2009

Despite Turnbull win, Libs more divided than ever

Malcolm Turnbull has successfully survived today's leadership vote, with the party room voting down a motion for a leadership spill 48-35 -- but that's still 35 party members holding deep anger towards their leader.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Malcolm Turnbull has successfully launched a pre-emptive strike on his conservative opponents, calling a party room meeting today and calling on his colleagues to vote on a spill motion. The motion was defeated 48-35, leaving would-be challenger Kevin Andrews in the starting blocks. Angry backbenchers Wilson Tuckey and Dennis Jensen -- both strongly opposed to a deal on the CPRS with the government -- had announced last night, while Turnbull was holding a bizarre press conference declaring he had won over the majority of his party room colleagues, that they would seek a special party room meeting tomorrow to debate a spill motion. That would have given conservative forces in the party to settle on a candidate other than stalking-horse Andrews. With Andrew Robb too ill to be a contender, attention was focused on Tony Abbott, who had declared he would not challenge Turnbull. This morning, Turnbull sprang his surprise, calling a 1pm meeting at which the party could debate a spill motion, indicating that if the party favoured a spill, he would resign and throw the leadership open. The move left conservatives flat-footed, with only Andrews indicating he would challenge Turnbull. Tuckey and Jensen moved the motion. In a pre-meeting press conference, Andrews continued to insist that Turnbull had failed to attract majority support in the party room last night, in effect declaring Turnbull a liar. Despite Turnbull's win, the Liberal Party is now more divided than ever, with three Senate parliamentary secretaries, Matthias Cormann, Brett Mason and Mitch Fifield, all resigning this morning, making a Turnbull reshuffle inevitable. Cormann is a prominent climate denialist, and Fifield has also declared himself opposed to the CPRS deal.  Mason has also spoken out against a deal. The trio in effect join Robb on the backbench, after he dropped a bombshell yesterday and declared without warning that he was opposed to a CPRS deal. It is hard to see how Robb can return to the frontbench once he returns to health, although the backbench would give him greater freedom of action on policy issues, making him a more dangerous opponent for Turnbull. Moderate South Australian Simon Birmingham is the strong tip for a promotion from the backbench.  Birmingham has been highly visible supporter of Turnbull throughout the CPRS battle. The Christmas break may cool tempers and allow some healing, but the mood of a large minority of the Liberal Party -- at least 35 MPs and Senators -- is deep anger toward its leader.

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38 thoughts on “Despite Turnbull win, Libs more divided than ever

  1. shepherdmarilyn

    Thank goodness we have one decent liberal senator in SA because the likes of Minchin and Bernardi are a complete and total embarrassment.

  2. Paddlefoot

    The ‘rebel’ Libs have hitched the wagon to the Climate Sceptic / Denialist train and, by association ( and typical populist frezy ), to the ever growing ‘world conspiracy’ view, where all rational discussion is actually seen as a sign of conspiracy membership. It brings to mind Flat Tax, No Moon Landing, Flouride, Freemasons and all those clearly interconnected issues. It’s amazing we ever bother getting out of bed, such are the forces of darkness that press down on us !

    And just a few short months ago, we marvelled at the election of a black President. The more things change ….

  3. David Sanderson

    Instead of complaining that Rudd no longer sends him Christmas cards Hockey should be sending a metre high card to Turnbull this Christmas.

    Turnbull has ensured that when Hockey does ascend to the august position that Turnbull now holds the party will be willing to put endless stuff-ups and ‘mis-speaks’ from Hockey simply because they will be so enormously grateful to him for having relieved them of Turnbull’s ministrations.

    Turnbull, to his credit seems to understand that his day has past but has decided to go out fighting for something he believed in – the CPRS.

  4. j-boy57

    its a carbon copy of Malcolms outstanding work
    on the republic

  5. Jenny Haines

    Thank goodness Malcolm survived. Why should he give in to all the nongs, dingbats and plain crazies of the Coalition!! I am not a Coalition voter and never will be. But Andrews as Leader!! The Coalition members who supported him have got to be joking!! I remember well his stuff ups as Minister for Immigration. God help us if he was Leader of the Opposition or even PM!!

  6. Julius

    Turnbull has been described as Kennett with an extra 30 points of IQ. The point is that Kennett had quite enough cognitive ability for the job, especially when added to the trained instinctual responses that came from his early start in politics – which is what Turnbull is so obviously suffering from the lack of. However, someone of Turnbull’s brains and energy should be counted on to learn even at his age and to cut down on the blunders – indeed has he repeated any blunders apart from being a bit slow to learn the art of pretending to suffer fools gladly?

    So, unless the Liberals can effect some brain transplants they had better recognise that Malcolm is their best hope and that now the opportunity is opened up for a counter-attack on Rudd by a masterly advocate of high intelligence and a much greater appearance of candour than Rudd. Don’t write off Turnbull until you see whether he can capitalise on the opportunity he now has.

    As for Andrews: consult the excellent article in Wikipedia on “stalking horses”. Which version best captures the humble Andrews’ exposure of himself to ridicule? And, for fun, which variant description best describes his 30 seconds of fame: “stalking donkey”, “stalking mule” or ???

  7. Bullmore's Ghost

    I suppose at one level it’s comforting to be reaffirmed, for the time being, as the captain of a ship of fools.

    It’s all plain sailing from here on — just set course for the nearest iceberg and relax.

    And it would be fun to hang a few mutineers to lift morale.

  8. Kerry Lewis

    What a lot of people, I’d suggest, want to know, re that undertaking of his last month, with such a large proportion of his party so diametrically “uncommitted” to this issue now, why is Turnbull still leader of his “Coal-ishun”? Or was that “Turnbull the Brief” talking back then?

  9. David Sanderson

    Head to head with Kevin Andrews. Leadership spills don’t come much dumber than that. It is like asking Robin to fight to the death against Batman. We know they will both enjoy it but inevitably the biggest prick will come out on top.

  10. John james

    Turnbull has demonstrated why he was never fit to lead the Liberal party. This is deja vu! The AustralianRepublican Movement debacle all over again. Turnbull is intelligent and urbane but, as a political leader, completely inept.
    His declaration that effectively, there ” is a majority” because I say there is a majority and “I’m the leader”, is farcical.
    Moreover he has demonstrated to Conservatives all over Australia that this is not someone to follow into political battle.
    This decision will impose enormous costs on Australian industry, will erode our competitive edge because of our cheap energy, fails, as to-day’s AFR states in its editorial, to lay out a low carbon energy road map, ignores the elephant in the room, nuclear energy, and does nothing in terms of impacting on global emissions. Why the need to act before Copenhagen when clearly other participants will go to Copenhagen without any agreed strategy or targets.
    Turnbull should go and soon.

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