Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Today by Paddy Manning

Is the war over?
The Liberal Party may finally pull itself together on climate

Liberal MP Tim Wilson. Source: Facebook

With the Liberals finally free of both rivals in the decade-long feud between Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, there is an outside chance that Scott Morrison’s victory on Saturday may heal the party’s own climate war. It is not a matter of balancing the number of moderates versus conservatives in the party, senior Liberals say, but a function of Morrison’s unquestioned internal authority, and the fact that the factionalism itself may subside. On the conservative side, there is a new trust in leading moderates such as Tim Wilson, because they have proved themselves to be Liberals – as against suspected communists – with their avid campaigning on franking credits, which undoubtedly helped the Coalition clinch the election. Plus, after winning the unwinnable election, there is the side benefit of the Liberal Party owing the coal industry – or any other lobby – zip, given the utter paucity of donations from business. Without overstating things, there may be some small upside.

As this data analysis in Guardian Australia shows, consistent with plenty of the post-election commentary, there were swings against metropolitan Liberals in wealthier, better-educated, traditional blue-ribbon seats, and towards them in poorer, less-educated seats. There is little doubt that in many of those traditional Liberal strongholds climate was an overriding factor, along with concerns following the dumping of Turnbull. Seats such as Higgins and Goldstein in Melbourne (down 6.4 and 4.6 per cent respectively), or North Sydney and Bradfield in Sydney (both down 4.4 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively), remain safe for the Liberal Party, but its members have been sent a message about climate change by their electorates. Those MPs, and so-called “modern Liberals” such as Dave Sharma in Wentworth, will be advocates for climate action.

As one senior Liberal strategist told me: “I say to people, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised, because the thing holding us back on action on climate change was not any intrinsic Liberal ideology.” The strategist says that Howard had a climate change policy, but the problem was that Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott hated each other, and that “that problem has been removed”.

The strategist says that Morrison is not ideologically resistant to action on climate change, and argues that nor is Angus Taylor (who is today speculated to pick up responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions reduction from Environment Minister Melissa Price, who is likely to be demoted). “You might find it’s a double-edged sword for progressives: everyone ends up wearing another coal-fired power station in return for more ambitious targets. Or they might just think, ‘Fuck it we’ll go back to an NEG now that Turnbull has gone.’ You could find a much better outcome under us than people thought possible, mainly because we’ve got a unified party room.” The key dynamic, according to this source, is that the Liberal conservatives have learned to trust the moderates again. It’s not about numbers between the two factions – as both sides have learnt, it only takes a handful of miscreants to divide a party.

“Now you’ve got a lot of people in the party with a lot of political capital. Guys like Tim Wilson, Jason Falinski, they’re half the reason we just won!” Regarding franking credits, he says that “even the most hard-headed political advisers were thinking, ‘that’s not going to be a huge issue because it’s only – what – 15,000-odd people?’” But that the moderates, believing – rightly, as it turns out – that a lot more people were going to care about it, prosecuted the case on franking credits. “So I wouldn’t be surprised if the moderates are able to segue the political capital they earned in this campaign into a more balanced attitude on climate change from the party room, because now we know that they’re on our side. The biggest thing holding the moderates back was that guys on my side of politics didn’t believe that they had our best interests at heart. We believed that the moderates had in mind some generational project where they were going to remake the party into something we wouldn’t like. What their project on franking credits proved to us is that we’re all on the same team. [Now] we know that they’re not just communist traitors”.

By beating Abbott, Zali Steggall may already have done something on climate change, even if she spends the rest of her time twiddling her thumbs.

“Albo is the outstanding parliamentarian of our generation. He’s shown that in his previous capacity as Leader in the House and he’s shown that he can work with people across the Parliament to achieve the outcomes that benefit working people."

Senator Penny Wong endorses Labor’s Anthony Albanese for leader, as reports anticipate that Chris Bowen will pull out of the race before the ballot proceeds

“I think that the community is fed up with the processes, I know I’m fed up with the processes, I know my local members are fed up with the processes. We need some certainty and we need some time frames. Enough is enough.”

Queensland Premier Anna Palaszczuk flags that she wants to end the impasse on environmental approvals for Adani’s Carmichael coalmine.


The number of cases of unlawful political advertising found by the Australian Electoral Commission during the federal election. The AEC received almost 500 complaints about political advertising during the election.

“APRA has proposed removing its guidance that ADIs [authorised deposit-taking institutions] should assess whether borrowers can afford their repayment obligations using a minimum interest rate of at least 7 per cent. Instead, ADIs would be permitted to review and set their own minimum interest rate floor for use in serviceability assessments. APRA has also proposed that ADIs’ serviceability assessments incorporate an interest rate buffer of 2.5 per cent.”

The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority yesterday relaxed its 2014 guidelines for mortgage lending.

The list

“‘I want you to always remember that you have permission to be in control of your body, before and now and always.’ ... One of the points the book makes is that this ‘permission’ cannot be taken for granted. In the US, 13 states have already passed or prepared legislation that would limit or outlaw abortion in the event that the increasingly conservative Supreme Court one day overturns Roe v Wade, its 1973 ruling enshrining women’s right to abortion without interference from the states.”

“Dimopoulos is in St Vincent’s Hospital in Fitzroy, just a short walk from Melbourne’s queer hub of bars, sex clubs and one very iconic bookstore, Hares & Hyenas. It was there, in the early hours of last Saturday morning, he was arrested by Victoria Police during a raid on his home in what police have described as a case of mistaken identity. Dimopoulos’s arm was torn from its socket, broken so badly it required hours of surgery just so he didn’t lose the limb.”

“‘The secret,’ said Niki Lauda, ‘is to win going as slowly as possible.’ This remark is sometimes attributed to another and even greater racing driver, Juan Manuel Fangio. Perhaps Niki Lauda was quoting it without acknowledgment ... None of the other Formula One correspondents had come to Estoril to study philosophy and neither had I, but even at the time it struck me as a profound remark from someone who had only one race left to snatch the title, and one way or another I have been thinking about what he said ever since.”

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is the author of Inside the Greens and the unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Born To Rule?


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