Opposition needs a wizard in Oz

November 25, 2009

On the surface, Australia’s opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull won the endorsement of his party when he put his job on the line over his bipartisan support for the PM’s carbon trade plan. ‘Turnbull wins the day’, was the headline on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

But, dig a little deeper, and the picture is in fact quite bleak for the Liberal Party with around 12 months to go before a national election. Within hours of the vote the obituaries for Turnbull’s political career started to appear.

Two things arise from the leadership vote called by Turnbull as a
result of an internal Liberal Party revolt over climate policy.
First, the count itself. 48-35. This is hardly a vote of confidence in a leader. Second, who was it who managed to secure so many votes against Turnbull? A relative unknown in Kevin Andrews.

The Herald’s Mark Davis writes “the stark reality of today’s vote is that 35 Liberal MPs were so angry at Turnbull they stood ready today to install a plainly politically unviable candidate”. Peter Hartcher in the Herald writes the vote backfired on Turnbull, serving only to highlight an “extraordinary mood of angry, irresponsible recklessness” within the Liberals. He derides what has become an
“angry rabble”, a party out of control.

By the end of the Australian summer, pundits are predicting the
Liberals could have a new leader, the party’s third in three
years. That leaves precious little time to turn around a party that only a couple of years ago had dominated Australian politics for over a decade.

This week, Kevin Rudd celebrated his second year in office. It looks like only a miracle for the Liberals will prevent him from celebrating a second term in office next year. As Shaun Carney writes in the Age, Rudd’s good fortune is yet to run out.

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/