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Turnbull’s crushing loss called a “win?”

Posted By Joanne Nova On October 12, 2009 @ 3:34 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

Is this the same conference? One newspaper reports a “win” for Turnbull, while another calls it “a slap in the face.”

Below, The Australian reports that our opposition leader won a concession from his party–yet it’s hardly a win. His party (or at least the WA State branch) clearly don’t want him to agree to an Emissions Trading Scheme before Copenhagen. Their “concession” was that he’s allowed to …um, talk about the details of the scheme that he can’t agree too. What Turnbull wanted and desperately needed was a concession that he could pass the ETS legislation in some form, and clearly he hasn’t got that. The real headline should be:

“Malcolm Turnbull wins meaningless concession from WA Liberals.”

[The Australian] (my addition in blue).

“There is a tendency, particularly for new oppositions, to think we are still in government. We are not, we are in opposition.” said Malcolm Turnbull.

47% of the people of Australia did not vote for Liberal members of parliament so they could rubber stamp the policies from the other candidates.

Turnbull is full of truisms that miss the point:

“In politics you can be the man or the woman with a plan, you cannot be the man or the woman with no plan and that is why the amendments are absolutely vital,”

It’s not much use having a plan if it’s the wrong one. The plan we really need is one where we check the science–independently–instead of just relying on an unaudited, unelected committee based in Geneva to do it for us. We checked the economics for ourselves, but we just assumed that political committees who “synthesize” the science are above question.

“Later, Liberal stalwart Chilla Porter accused some backbenchers of using the media as a weapon against their own party. “It’s not the environmental issue that’s causing us pain, it’s the way some have been conducting themselves,” Mr Porter said.”

So the Australian managed to find the only person there who agreed with Turnbull. Thanks to the Age for giving us this bit of info:

“Only one delegate out of an estimated 400 in attendance backed the Turnbull position that it would be “most unwise” to do nothing to amend Labor’s scheme.”

In The Age‘s report of the same event the concession reads like the loss that it was.

“How the West was not won on climate”

[The Age]

“Malcolm Turnbull has been delivered a slap in the face by the West Australian Liberal Party, with near unanimous hostility towards his plan to amend Labor’s emissions trading scheme before the Copenhagen summit. A fiery annual state conference of the West Australian state Liberals last night passed a motion that the federal Liberal Party should “not conclude” negotiations with the Federal Government until after the December summit and, even then, support for an agreement should not be considered a fait accompli.”

A reader, Anne-Kit, was at the Liberal Party (WA) State Conference this weekend and comments:

“I am delighted to report that the motion (to delay the ETS and insist that it be “consistent with the latest available scientific research”) was passed with a massive majority. Note the important last clause (about the science). Many speakers questioned the science, not least the proposer and seconder of the motion who made impassioned statements about the lack of consensus and the growing number of dissenting scientists, not least coming out of Australia.

Thanks to readers Anne-Kit for first hand commentary, and especially to Bruce for pointing out the two different articles.

UPDATE: This morning The Australian’s editorial tells us “MALCOLM Turnbull did not have a bad weekend.” They go on to surmise that “He must convince his colleagues his judgment is sound, that he can unite them behind his policies, especially his commitment to negotiating with the government over its ETS. The first supporters Mr Turnbull must secure are all his colleagues.” Which would be true if there was a need for an ETS. If there is no convincing science behind the scheme though, it will be impossible for Turnbull to secure support through reasoned debate, which only leaves the bullying option. What kind of leader ignores almost everyone in his party?  If Turnbull is so far ahead of his team, he’ll have no trouble explaining why they should switch to his position. But sometimes the mark of a great leader is their ability to listen.


Momentum is picking up for skeptics in Australia. Our government wants an ETS before Copenhagen, and have threatened to dissolve both houses of parliament if  the opposition doesn’t give them the votes they need. So faced with the threat of an election he probably can’t win, our opposition leader has put his job on the line, telling his party members to just agree with him and give this major legislation the go ahead, even though no one on either side can think of a good reason to rush it. His members are rebelling en masse, and this weekend the Western Australian branch held a meeting where the first policy up for vote was passed with almost unanimous support. The policy:

“That the Liberal Party of Australia (WA Division) calls on the Federal Parliamentary Party to delay any negotiation with the Federal Labor Government on the design or introduction of any emissions trading scheme (ETS) until after the climate change conference in Copenhagen. We also ask that any future decision to introduce an ETS be in line with the actions taken by Australia’s major trading partners and consistent with the latest available scientific research.”

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