Friday 08 Oct 2021 | 07:43 | SYDNEY
Friday 08 Oct 2021 | 07:43 | SYDNEY

Liberal implosion: A question for Rudd


Sam Roggeveen


30 November 2009 12:27

And that question is, 'which is your higher priority: passing the emissions trading bill, or dividing the Liberal Party?'

I've been planning this post for a couple of days now but I see that Michelle Grattan and Katharine Murphy have beaten me to the punch:

As a discordant backdrop to the negotiations, the Government had also been playing aggressive partisan politics on climate. Rudd had lashed Turnbull and the sceptics in an intemperate speech to the Lowy Institute. Then the Government leaked an agreement with Macfarlane that agricultural emissions would be indefinitely excluded, thus stealing a rabbit Macfarlane would rather have pulled out of his own hat.

To put this a bit more starkly, recall that when the Prime Minister made his highly partisan speech here at the Lowy Institute on 6 November, his own Climate Change Minister was at that very moment negotiating with the Opposition on amendments that would allow the Liberal Party to support the emissions trading bill. Mr Rudd chose that very sensitive moment to lambaste the Opposition in the most lurid terms, even lumping leader Malcolm Turnbull in with his party's climate sceptics.

Mr Rudd's speech could only have poisoned the atmosphere of those negotiations. And even though Penny Wong and Ian McFarlane did eventually come to a deal, didn't Rudd's speech simply make it harder for the Liberal sceptics and fence-sitters to suppress their doubts and support the ETS?

The Liberal Party's woes are of their own making, but by exploiting Liberal divisions so mercilessly, Mr Rudd seems to have furthered his electoral ambitions at the expense of his legislative agenda.