NEW TURNING POINT? September 16, 2008Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
Brendan Nelson has taken the bull by the horns, and opened his position to a party room ballot. What is with the bravado? Malcolm Turnbull, back from overseas today, has thrown his name into the ring.
Pete Costello, author and footlights personality, has retired to the backstage, to escape the cigarette smoke. The job of Opposition Leader is tough and thankless, but still sought and held with tenacity despite public opinion polls. Most often such gestures are causes for regret by those that make them. Did the Admiral blink with his glass eye, and did the General charge with his sword drawn? All is to be settled tomorrow in the Liberal Party room. it is not just the front men that win or lose but those who would pull the strings.
The Admiral must have landed on the beach. No more surfing. According to ABC Online he declared:
‘I am asking our party to draw a line in the sand’
You can’t get more viral and bellicose than that.
ABC Online reports the breathless news:
Federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has called a leadership vote for tomorrow morning.
Late this afternoon he called his Liberal colleagues to an unscheduled meeting.
It is understood Dr Nelson is trying to settle the leadership by calling a vote.
One source says that would be a suicide mission and predicts Malcolm Turnbull has the numbers to take the leadership.
In a statement Dr Nelson says that if re-endorsed as leader he will remain “absolutely determined and committed to the future of our Party and Australia”.
“But as we move forward, I am asking our party to draw a line in the sand and mark a transition – from the difficult aftermath of an election defeat to the building and presentation of a credible, attractive and inspiring alternative government.
“In doing so, we will make a renewed commitment to unity and discipline, to focus less on internal preoccupations and more on the Rudd Government, policy and the important issues concerning everyday Australians.
And “everyday Australians” no doubt went back to whatever “everyday Australians” do, whoever they may be. But is this tone far too flippant? And: who are the wise ones we should be listening to?
Mark at Larvatus Prodeo observes that is on and that Admiral Nelson has thrown down the gauntlet (the mixed metaphor [or is it semaphore?] is all mine). Pete’s book launch was to be tomorrow – talk about the ghost of Hamlet’s father.
Possum admires the Admiral’s fighting qualities and strategy:
Catching everyone off guard, particularly Turnbull – having just flown in from his overseas jaunt – he has, if nothing else, at least put himself on the front foot. No one seems to know who has the numbers, there’s too many undecideds and waverers for each camp, so by pulling the trigger and going early he has forced a great big chunk of his party room to make up their mind, and make it up now. It’s high risk, but by controlling the timing of the spill Nelson has prevented Turnbull from being able to slowly build momentum in the party room over the next month or two, momentum that would have guaranteed Nelson defeat.
So Nelson at least has a fighting chance, or at least a greater chance than he would have had were he to let Turnbull control the timing. The power of the status quo, the power of leadership incumbency in the Liberal party is nothing to sneeze at – he’s hoping that it, combined with the hostility to Turnbull in some party quarters will be just enough to get him through tomorrow as the victor. Nelson’s actions look pretty sharp considering the alternatives he had available.
All is to be revealed tomorrow. Will the General be relegated to the backbench to plot a new strategy? Which eye did the Admiral hold his telescope to, and did he read the semaphore? Will the General retire for a new career? Will the Admiral go back to sea? There is a shortage of information on all these questions.
Malcolm Turnbull is the new Federal Leader of the Opposition. I suspect the timing is all wrong. Brendan Nelson’s leadership’s lack of credibility was reflected by the polls. Turnbull’s ascendancy marks the transition from the Howard years. Turnbull will be a better Opposition Leader than Nelson. The Republic will inevitably gain a higher profile. Australian federal politics has become interesting again.