Sunday, August 03, 2008

Leadership of Liberals

It is obvious to me that Brendan Nelson will not lead the Liberal Party to the next federal election. His attempt to turn the emissions trading scheme debate into a mean spirited rejection of trading unless developing countries with a fraction of our energy consumption also commit to do so means that he will lose Liberal Party supporters such as myself.

I cannot support this clown because (i) his stance is immoral; (ii) the urgency of climate change issues makes it imperative that we put pressure on other countries to act by not being hypocrites ourselves and (iii) it is unwise to be out of step with the majority of Australians who do support an ETS.

I am unsure whether Peter Costello or Malcolm Turnbull would make a better alternative leader - a leader who would regain power from Labor. Costello has the greater electoral appeal but has the liability of being a strong supporter of labour market reform that went even beyond WorkChoices. These reforms I continue to support. John Howard did too but he always figured they would be electorally unacceptible. The Liberals lost ground here after the election by whimping out like a bunch of beaten dogs when the Labor Party moved towards dismantling policy moves that fostered employment and created a more efficient workforce in Australia.

Its a simple principle. Don't abandon successful policies when opposition to them is backed in the main by a disappearing trade union movement who have zero economic intelligence - witness their stupid insistence on preserving the real wage in the face of food and oil price increases. Believe me - stripping aside party-political allegiances - there is not an economist in Australia who supports this foolish policy in private.

In addition Costello will always be viewed as being a sook because of his unwillingness to take on John Howard for the leadership (in my view, to be fair, he had no choice) and because of his early suggestion he would quit politics after the 2007 loss.

Malcolm Turnbull has lower electoral appeal according to the polls but won the day on retaining a sensible attitude to climate change. He is a mile smarter and much quicker to sense the political winds than Nelson and would make a much better PM than Rudd. He has had lower visibility and less experience than does Costello but that is changing.

Whoever the Liberals do select to replace Nelson they should back this leader through to the next election and ignore the invitation to commit political suicide with continuing leadership debates. The economic downturn and the preospect of a severe contraction of house prices will swing back those 'working families' who believed they could reliably trust the economy to Labor with its trade union debts and fundamental lack of talent.

Whoever wins the current leadership tussle I believe Julie Bishop remains a capable potential Deputy PM with Tony Abbott standing in the wings should Bishop eventually be shifted into a leadership role. Unlike Labor the Liberal Party has plenty of talent to draw on. Brendan Nelson was a 'sacrificial lamb' who probably understands his temporary role - he might be part of a Liberal front bench but not a future PM.


Anonymous said...

I'm impressed, a sane post from a Liberal on climate change I would however like to argue against a couple of your points.

1)You stated the bleeding obvious, the labor movement has been losing power for decades, yet you support workchoices, the very legislation that temporally halted the demise of the Unions. If Howard had got back in Unionism would now be on the rise, people where worried, the solution was to vote out the government or join a union.

When it comes to flexibility in the workplace we can thank our lucky stars labor got in, Rudd may finish the Job started by Keating. You may think labor has no talent, Jillian Gillard is no idiot.

An economist should step back from politics and be realistic as to who did what, to Howard we can give the GST (a tax a service economy has to have in my view) and fixing up the wharves, to Hawke and Keating we have to give bringing tariffs under control, opening up the financial sector, floating the dollar and starting the decline of the union movement (It is with some humor I remind you Whitlam started the process of reducing tariffs).

2)You feel the Liberals have more talent than Labor. Basically I think that is rubbush and unless the Liberal party faces up to it they will remain in opposition.

The Liberal party currently has several very serious problem, you dealt with the mess they have made of climate change policy, I would argue that Minchin and his mates not Nelson should be blamed for that mess. Nelsons problem is he needs those fools to retain his leadership.

I will mention a couple of others:

a)The Liberal party is no longer controlled by the liberals.
b)The demographic that votes for it is dieing.
c) Business did not need or want work choices.

To have a future the Liberal party needs to move back to it's liberal roots and at least silence the social conservatives, they scare the living daylights out of any demographic younger than 50.

The way to get more flexible working conditions was to legislate
a minimum set of conditions and enforce only those, this would have further reduced the need for unions and in the end undermined enterprise bargaining ( which I assume is what your complaining about).

Costello will not bring an end to conservative control of the Liberal party. I believe Turnbull will, however I don't believe he will have the numbers until after the next election. Costello has to lose first (if the party is unlucky and he stays on).

So in conclusion, I hope Turnbull takes the leadership and I would like to see the end of Abbot and Minchin, they and their policy positions could very well lead to the destruction of the Liberal party.


Anonymous said...

Labor's got two terms, probably three, in the bag, so why fret over who is Liberal leader. The next Liberal PM might not even be in federal parliament yet. Crean and Beazley never got over their association with Keating and the current Liberal lot are all tainted by association with Howard, especially Costello.

The Liberals need to wipe the late clean like Labor did (eventually). Don't forget Rudd didn't enter politics till 1998.

Anonymous said...

My view of Costello is less charitable than yours. If he wanted the leadership, he should have been prepared for a backbench stint. His problem was an unwillingness to get out of the hammock and into the trenches. No aspiring PM can afford that attitude, which is why Kevin 24/7 has it all over Costello.

While I don't predict terms, it doesn't seem that the Coalition is even focussing on 2010. Their infighting reminds me of the factional bloodletting that used to be Labor's preserve.

As always, you write sensibly about climate change. I encourage you to keep doing so and keep calling attention to lies and distortions to make it clear that this is not a left/right issue (or shouldn't be), it is too important for that. The risks are too high for any other approach.