Maybe Tony Abbott did not ignore my fax. And maybe Kevin Andrews was willing to run just to test the level of support for Malcolm Turnbull, with another stronger candidate in the background.
In any case, it looks like there will be a vote on the Liberal leadership on Monday.
It is absolutely clear now that Malcolm Turnbull cannot continue.
He has not been able to set out clear policies which make the Liberals a genuine alternative to Labor, he has not been able to score any effective points against the government or Kevin Rudd, even when the points seemed to be there for the taking, and he is simply not liked or trusted by the majority of voters or even Liberal party members.
If that sounds harsh, it is not meant as any kind of personal criticism. Turnbull is clearly an able man. But equally clearly, he is not the right man to be leading the Liberal party.
The two possibilities are Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott.
I like Joe Hockey. I think most people do.
On personality and communication skills he is more likely to be able to steer the Liberals to victory than Malcolm Turnbull.
But the reason the leadership is in dispute is not personality or communication. It is policy, and in particular the determination and ability to put forward well researched, well-argued alternatives to government proposals.
Because the ETS/CPRS/RAT scheme has the potential to cause such devastation to the Australian economy, to businesses and to families, this determination and ability have never been more important.
I have seen little evidence that Joe Hockey’s views on the ETS or other major current issues can easily be distinguished from those of the Labor government. If he is not able clearly to articulate how his views are different, and how he would oppose the government’s plans, then electing him as leader would be a fatal mistake.
Tony Abbott does not quite have the likeable charisma of Joe Hockey. But he is well-liked nonetheless. And on policy he is clearly in front.
I would have preferred a little more decisiveness and a little less pragamatism on the RAT scheme from the beginning.
The tide of public opinion has now definitely turned. An election argued on this one policy will be winnable for the Liberals if they simply present the evidence.
But whether it is an election winning issue is beside the point, or should be. The ETS is wrong. It is bad for Australia, bad for ordinary people. It will achieve nothing good.
Doing what is right is more important than appearing to do what is right. And sometimes doing what is right means saying loud and clear, ‘This is wrong, and I won’t support it.’
Whoever is chosen as leader on Monday must be willing to do what is right.
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