The Liberals have won comfortably in both the Melbourne-based Higgins and Sydney-based Bradfield by-elections, getting over 50% of the primary vote.
The Labor Party didn’t run in either electorate, so it was the Green Party that was the major opposition. In Higgins (Melbourne) the Greens picked the anti-growth, anti-development, anti-capitalist, anti-internet, anti-sex campaigner crazy Clive Hamilton… who managed to pick up a respectable 35%. I hope that a lot of that is a protest, or simply an anti-Liberal vote, because it’s scary to think that 35% of voters want us to be poorer.
Of the minor parties, the best performances came from the Sex Party (3.4%, 3.5%) and the Democratic Labour Party (2.1%, 3.9%). The Democrats (remember them?) got 2.4% in Higgins, One Nation did poorly (0.3%, 0.6%) and surprisingly Family First didn’t run. In Bradfield the Christian Democrats got 3.4% of the vote spit between 9 candidates, including the donkey vote.
Interestingly, there were three climate change specific parties. The climate skeptics got 1.7% and 1.8%, which was quite good considering they didn’t get their party registered in time and so had to run as independents. The climate change alarmists got 1.1% (Bradfield), and the nuclear energy mob got 1% (Bradfield).
The Liberal Democrats got 0.4% 0.5% (Higgins) and 0.7% 0.8% (Bradfield). It doesn’t look like much, but it is an improvement on the 2007 federal election. For instance, in 2007 the LDP got 0.1% in Wentworth (Sydney), 0.1% in Bennelong (Sydney), and 0.1% in La Trobe (Melbourne). At this rate of improvement, they’ll be in power in 10 years.
The showdown for Liberal leader will happen on Tuesday. At the moment it is a fight between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott, though Joe Hockey also might join the mix. Kevin Andrews might have another go too.
Some other potential leaders aren’t putting their hands up this time around. One option that I quite like is Andrew Robb. Other names sometimes thrown around for future leader include Julie Bishop, Peter Dutton and Christopher Pyne.
So what do you think, dear reader? (Note: click on the poll below to take you to the poll main page, then vote. You can choose more than one option, but you can only vote once.)
For political junkies the talk of the last week has been about the Liberal party split on whether or not to support the ALP’s Emissions Trading System (ETS). On one side is Turnbull/Hockey/Pyne and the moderate wing of the party who support an ETS… and on the other side is Abbott/Robb/Minchin and the conservative wing of the party who are desperately trying to stop the legislation from passing.
It’s difficult to see a good outcome for the Liberals.
Abbott has said he will challenge for the leadership on Tuesday. Turnbull responded by throwing a hand grenade into the party, insulting the anti-ETS crowd and insisting that people back him or the Liberals will be destroyed. If Turnbull wins then we are stuck with bad climate policy, angry conservatives deserting the party (which is probably good for the LDP), and a divided parliamentary party with prominent figures on the backbench. But if he loses and quits politics then the Liberals could potentially face a Wentworth by-election (which they may well lose), angry moderates, lots of Turnbull quotes to use in the next election, another unhappy ex-leader, and then we may still get stuck with the ETS anyway.
Delaying the vote until February won’t fix the problem. That just means that the debate goes on for another three months and then the Liberals face the same problem again.
The best compromise might be for the Liberals to consider backing a carbon tax, linked to tax cuts and with a McKitrick clause. This would allow the party to unambiguously oppose all types of ETS, it would be a better policy with a wide range of support from economists and some green groups, the associated tax cuts and McKitrick clause should help to placate some conservatives, and the the moderates can be happy that the party is going to “do something”.
Turnbull and Hockey are unlikely to support this position, but Abbott has shown some interest in the idea of a carbon tax.