Friday, November 27, 2009

Aussie Lib party in meltdown over global warming scam

By Malcolm Farr
November 27, 2009

Liberal Party in total meltdown over ETS crisis

ANGRY resignations from the Shadow Cabinet last night propelled Malcolm Turnbull closer to a leadership showdown which opponents to an ETS could ensure he loses.

Nine Liberals quit their posts so they could fight the amendments to legislation creating an Emissions Trading Scheme negotiated with the Government by Mr Turnbull and senior colleagues.

Three senior figures, including Liberal Senate Leader Nick Minchin, who also quit the front bench, said they would vote against the ETS in defiance of Mr Turnbull.

The most significant desertion was that of families spokesman Tony Abbott, who is expected to be a candidate in any leadership ballot.

"The phone lines have been in meltdown, with people saying that the Liberal Party would not be doing its job as an Opposition simply to pass this thing without scrutiny," Mr Abbott said.

Last night Mr Turnbull refused to bow to the attacks on his performance and said the central issue was the integrity of the party, having negotiated amendments in good faith.

"This has now become a question not simply of the environmental responsibility of the Liberal Party but of its integrity," he said.

"We agreed with the Government on this deal. We must retain our credibility on taking action on climate change. We cannot be seen as a party of climate sceptics and do-nothings on climate change.

"That is absolutely fatal."

Despite the uproar within the Liberal Party, the ETS legislation, officially known as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill, might still pass the Senate.

Government Minister Anthony Albanese last night said there would be a vote on the ETS legislation at 3.45pm today, and said Mr Turnbull had agreed to that yesterday.

The Government needs just seven Liberal votes to get it through.

The crisis erupted just after Question Time yesterday when Mr Abbott and Senator Minchin - fiercely opposed to climate change measures - met Mr Turnbull and asked that he defer a vote on the ETS until 2010.

Mr Turnbull rejected the advice, and Mr Abbott handed in his notice of resignation from the Shadow Cabinet.

He was followed by Victorian MP Sophie Mirabella, Senator Minchin and Senator Eric Abetz, and Opposition Whips Stephen Parry and Michael Johnson.

Late last night, Deputy Whips Judith Adams and David Bushby also quit their positions.

Mr Johnson last night called on Mr Turnbull to resign, adding he no longer had "the confidence of enough members of the party to enjoy the privileged position that he has".

Three junior Liberals - Matthias Corman, Mitch Fifield and Brett Mason - quit on Wednesday.

"This is not about leadership," Mrs Mirabella said yesterday - but that's the way most of her colleagues saw it.

Last night's moves followed an extraordinary day in which some Liberals publicly urged voters to protest against the amendments.

"We have been getting unprecedented emails on the ETS, unprecedented in both volume and anger. Let your members and senators know what you think, and get your friends and acquaintances to do likewise," West Australian MP Dennis Jensen said in a Facebook post.

Tempers were further roused when a rumour spread that Mr Turnbull would agree to forcing the ETS legislation through the Senate last night. Liberal senators called a war meeting but there was no move by the Government or Mr Turnbull.

Opposition unrest came as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced he would be heading to Washington next week for climate change talks.

Thanks to: From: SilentDeep (79584660)