Next two hours could seal Malcolm Turnbull’s fate
UPDATE 8.20pm: Total chaos as meeting ends, set to resume at 8am tomorrow, strong talk that he will be challenged, massive press pack outside Party Room, Turnbull apparently has 41 MPs behind his ETS Plan and 33 against, MPs saying it is not a strong enough mandate to back the ETS, Turnbull has apparently blown up inside meeting, says nothing to press on way out. More to follow.
Update 8.15pm: Sky News reports the back bench vote actually came out 41-33 against the CPRS, but Turnbull declared with the shadow ministers he could get a majority in favour. According to David Speers he made this announcement while some Senators were outside the room. To say they’re unhappy is an understatement.
Update 8pm: Apparently the No vote disputes the party room numbers on the CPRS and are going to move a leadership spill. Kevin Andrews confirms he would put his hand up if the spill gets up.
Update 7.40pm: Malcolm Turnbull says he’s won the support he needs in the Coalition party room. But they’re reconvening at 8pm and there’s rumours of a leadership spill.
Update 5.10 pm: Perhaps not surprisingly Tuckey couldn’t get enough hands up for his motion.
Update 4.50pm: Wilson Tuckey has just moved for a spill of the leadership in the party room. The motion won’t get up without a majority show of hands. But it’s sure to make Malcolm Turnbull’s day just that much worse.
The next two hours will be the most important in the life of Malcolm Turnbull’s political leadership as he stares down a groundswell of hostility from rebel MPs over his support for Kevin Rudd’s carbon pollution reduction scheme.
The charge has been led by Andrew Robb, the influential former party director, who quit the frontbench two months ago with a depressive illness, and who commands tremendous respect within the party as a tactician and a thinker.
Mr Robb spoke at length and forcefully against the Turnbull compromises on key elements of the package, with one MP saying his intervention makes Mr Turnbull’s position” messy, very messy.”
While Mr Robb has no designs on the leadership and is still recovering from his illness, he was touted as a possible leadership or deputy leadership candidate earlier this year.
Senior conservatives Tony Abbott and Nick Minchin are also agitating against the Turnbull deal. Fellow right-winger Kevin Andrews is not being seriously regarded as a leadership player but in a sign of destabilisation indicated his willingness to run yesterday should he be required.
Liberal MPs are saying that if any move comes it will come from Abbott.
There is no solid prediction as to how long the meeting will last - Shadow Cabinet endorsed the Turnbull deal at 8am, the Party Room met at 10am and debated through until 2pm for Question Time, and will resume within 15 minutes when Question Time finishes. It could go into the evening - imperiling Malcolm Turnbull’s end of year drinks for the press gallery, which people here are getting a bit worried about.
Mr Turnbull’s people are saying that two-thirds of the speakers so far have been in favour of his deal but there is a long way to go yet and they may not all stick. We wll file again when it pans out.
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