Confusion reigns online over ETS and the Liberal Party
IT is almost two months to the day since Malcolm Turnbull defiantly proclaimed he could not lead a party that failed to act on climate change.
It could well be his epitaph because it looks increasingly likely they will be his famous last words. His war-like comments in a radio interview on October 1 will come back to haunt him tomorrow when a leadership challenge is expected to try to finally resolve the Liberal Party’s internal angst and division over the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Aside from internal manoeuvrings and mutinous rumblings within the party, the Liberals have a bigger problem. They are sending mixed signals to the electorate about where they stand on climate change and this is worse than death by a thousand swords for a party hoping to win Government at the next election.
Confusion over the ETS has been clearly evident in reader comments on online news sites over the past week.
Gerard Gough of Tatton, NSW voiced this bewilderment on abc.net.au: “Am I the only one, or are you confused about the proposed emissions trading scheme? What do we get with an ETS? So far, I haven’t heard one announcement about what the ETS tax will be used for … Please tell me it is not just another GST-type tax for pork barreling.”
This scepticism over the ETS has meant Turnbull’s determination to give it the green light has switched many voters against him.
Garo Gabrelian of North Sydney summed up what many were saying in a comment on The Daily Telegraph site: “Malcolm Turnbull’s days are numbered as Liberal leader and an end to his aspirations as prime minister one day, unless he starts listening. Whoever is advising him is getting it wrong every time. The ETS will cost the Australian economy far more than what is predicted and the people of Australia will be paying for it through future generations.”
Andrew Woodhouse of Potts Point added: “Malcolm Turnbull should resign. He’s lost the confidence of his party and Australians. He is not a team player. He’s a lone leader.”
Turnbull’s stance is also causing some Liberal voters to reconsider their voting intentions. Interested wrote on The Courier-Mail site: “If the Liberals back this Bill they would lose my vote. But if it is delayed for further review after the Copenhagen meeting, I will continue to vote Liberal.”
Such a response from voters opens the opportunity for the Liberals to select a compromise leader such as Joe Hockey, who could seek to delay the ETS.
Wayne Fehlhaber of Hervey Bay backed such a move in his comments to The Courier-Mail: “The first step to recovery for the Liberal Party is for Joe Hockey to lead and reunite the Opposition. The Liberals’ primary goal will be to heal the rifts and take the fight up to the Government. Polling shows clearly that electors do not understand the ETS. Furthermore, they have no inkling of the tax which is going to cause an upward spiral in the cost of almost everything we use daily.”
But not everyone is convinced Turnbull should go, especially with the spectre of an early election if the ETS falls over.
Joe B of Port Adelaide wrote on Adelaide Now: “The Libs don’t stand a chance of winning the next election so they should stick with Turnbull. Why would Joe Hockey go into the next election as leader which he knows the Libs can’t win? The extreme right in the Libs, like Tony Abbott, don’t represent mainstream Australia in regards to climate change and will only hurt their party’s chances if they gain power.”
Before Liberal MPs gather to decide the future of their party’s leadership they may like to recall what else Turnbull said two months ago in what could prove to be a prophetic interview: “Whether my leadership prevails or not on this issue, time will tell. But the fact of the matter is we cannot be a party with nothing to say.”
At the moment, the Liberal Party does not seem to know what it is saying when it comes to climate change.
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