This is the tiniest little victory of them all
If Malcolm Turnbull achieved nothing else yesterday he may have at least shut Wilson Tuckey up for five minutes.
Yesterday’s five hour joint party room meeting was a victory for Malcolm Turnbull but it was one that doesn’t leave a great deal of time for basking in the afterglow.
Malcolm Turnbull and Ian MacFarlane now have the right to sit down and discuss a set of agreed amendments with Penny Wong and Turnbull’s leadership is safe until at least the end of the year. And while it’s not much Malcolm Turnbull will take any small mercies at the moment and they’re ones he has fought hard for.
You can read the ins and the outs of the amendments here, but the important points to take out of it are:
- That agriculture would be permanently excluded from the Government’s CPRS but they would still be able to offset their emissions similar to schemes in the US and UK
- The coal industry would be protected from being charged for “fugitive emissions” , that means the gases released when mining coal.
The Coalition concessions to farming and coal industry are massive, and may be big enough to have them knocked off the negotiating table by Penny Wong from the outset.
On the other hand they’re also pretty popular in the bush and with the mining industry (the minerals council was quick to support the move last night), so the Opposition will at least be in the position of being seen to stand up for farmers and miners.
The Government’s also going to be quick to point out that climate change spokesman Ian MacFarlane admitted that the Coalition amendments would more than likely mean that the CPRS will lose money in the first few years.
If - and that’s a big if - Malcolm Turnbull and Ian MacFarlane can come out of negotiations with the Government with enough of their amendments still intact they then still have to go back to the party room to have them approved.
What’s going to happen there is unclear but last night Malcolm Turnbull didn’t seem too optimistic, stressing time and again when asked whether he would actually be able to get Coalition support that all that had been agreed to was a sit down with Penny Wong.
Turnbull says he’s “confident” that the party room would agree to support the legislation with the changes, but in reality that’s unlikely.
There’s a minority of Liberals – “less than 10” according to MacFarlane – who don’t support a scheme and according to Liberal sources even many climate sceptics believed that the amendments should still be supported.
Self-proclaimed leader of the rebels Wilson Tuckey apparently was given the floor on several occasions, despite MPs only having three minutes to speak each, but looked a little more red-faced and agitated than usual when he emerged from the party room.
Leaving the meeting he begrudgingly stated: “Mr. Turnbull has got party room support on his much-repeated words that he can put some amendments up to Penny Wong.”
The Nationals are of course another matter all together.
Queensland Senator Ron Boswell gave an impassioned speech against the ETS, with leaders Warren Truss and Barnaby Joyce saying last night they were still unlikely to vote any scheme.
Senator Joyce told The Punch last night that he may consider voting in favour of the amendments but still against the scheme overall, in a bid to protect farmers from what he calls a “dog” of a policy.
This option would allow the Nationals to register their overall disapproval with an ETS but still get amendments when the introduction of a scheme becomes a fait accompli.
The Greens of course won’t go near Coalition amendments, but given that they’ve dealt themselves out of the game with their demands the Government will be happy to pass the scheme with themselves and a majority of Liberals.
All this of course is a long way off and has a day dream like quality in the amount of things that would have to go Malcolm Turnbull’s way before it could be achieved. But for the first time in a long time at least Turnbull can be afforded that luxury.
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