Wednesday 17 September 2008

Turnbull’s Turn

CairnsBlog contributing writer, Syd Walker applauds the change in the Liberal leadership.

Brendan Nelson’s clumsy gamble flunked.

Malcolm Turnbull won the Liberal leadership in a vote he didn't precipitate. He followed with an impressive media conference.

It’s a significant change in the Australian political landscape.

The Federal Opposition, by a narrow margin, chose not to position itself somewhere to the right of John McCain. Good decision. It wouldn’t sell in Australia anytime soon. On the second ballot since losing government, the Federal Liberal party room was (just) wise enough to see that.

Perhaps Australian conservatives look to Britain for inspiration? After all, British Tories look like they’re actually going to win the next general election.

I can see why. Britain’s Nu Labour has become an unsaleable brand, fatally tainted by the embrace of pro-Zionist, pro-war, anti-civil liberties, pro-spook statism under Blair and Brown. It's like the manifestation of Orwell's worst nightmares.

Some months ago, I did an online test which claimed to identify political views on a matrix. My guess was confirmed. I was classified left-libertarian. Given a real choice, I vote for Independents such as Clover Moore, or for the Greens. In terms of the usual choices of two governing parties, I’m a natural Labor voter. When Labor loses people like me, it’s in some trouble.

British Labour is there already. With the Rudd Government, it’s too early too tell. But great opportunities have already been missed for ‘change we need’.

Under Rudd, so far, Labor has kept the country embroiled in a futile war - a war based on sordid lies - in Afghanistan. It has been every bit as ‘tag along’ behind the US-UK-Israeli Axis of Invasive Brute Force as the Howard Government before it.

So, Rudd Labor has been a conformist dud on foreign policy, to date, delivering the same old poisonous policies followed so enthusiastically by Howard before him.

On the other hand, the Rudd Government has relaxed the assault on civil liberties (but not yet reversed it). Yet under Turnbull, one might reasonably expect something similar from the Libs.

On environmental issues, I get the impression that Turnbull may actually understand the seriousness of the crisis and the need for unprecedented global co-operation to bring about a shift to genuine ecologically sustainability.

In that respect, I’d say he’s on a par with Rudd. I couldn't say the same about Brendan Nelson - or any Liberal leader of recent times.

The Liberals would be smart to move in a green direction. Perhaps Turnbull has the authority to lead them to greener pastures? When a global green tide is on, it’s wise to swim the same way.

Of course, Turnbull must tackle and carry with him heavy-duty skeptics on his side of politics. With Nelson on the back-bench, they may even have a rallying point for backward-looking policies. In addition, as leader of a major party, he’ll come under pressure from various key industry and financial lobbies.

The Murdoch media, of course, can be expected to scrutinize and shepherd his policies so they conform to its liking, especially in the areas that matter most to ‘neocons’, such as blind loyalty to Israel, unquestioning obeisance to the largely bogus, spook-manufactured ‘War on Terror’ - and support for malignant growth in military budgets.

Unfortunately, Rudd has similar problems. On this occasion, I’ll mention only climate change.

Never underestimate the power of the mining lobby and CFMEU to torpedo the best of Labor intentions. After all, Penny Wong is a CFMEU operative from way back, with an established track record of knifing the green movement with such finesse that it barely screams at the time. (I should acknowledge that Penny may have changed. Perhaps she’ll turn out to be a double-agent: the Kim Philby of the green movement? I do hope so).

Is it too naive to hope that the Federal Opposition might now use at least some Parliamentary time to highlight not only potential economic problems that may be associated with the Government’s water, climate change and other environmental policies – but to levy criticism over inadequate environmental ambition?

Another key issue, for people like me, is civil liberties. They were viciously curtailed under Howard, in line with trends throughout the ‘western’ world. This was achieved largely through lies and phoney scares.

Australia has become, in many respects, a quite illiberal society. It’s time to reverse the trend and put the ‘L’ back in Liberalism.

A bi-partisan Australian Bill of Rights, based on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, would help a great deal (I’m especially fond of Articles 18 and 19, which guarantee free speech).

How about proposing that, Malcolm?

Kevin would find it hard to say no (nice payback for when he tries to wedge your lot on the Republic).

As Mr Turnbull recognized in his acceptance speech, these are truly momentous times, globally. He spoke of the ‘crisis of confidence’ underway in global markets. There’s more, of course. Much more.

At the time of writing, by any fair assessment, the chance of a major world recession must be rated high. But we also face a growing - and potentially more devastating - global environmental crisis. The need for rapid, well-coordinated, worldwide technological change is apparent. And if all that wasn’t enough, nuclear-armed war mongers (our so-called ‘allies’, actually) blow hot and cold daily, threatening the world with abrupt catastrophe.

It will take intelligence and resolve from this generation of Australians to ride these storms. Broad consensus over positive goals is a prerequisite for success. Enlightened leadership will be essential – on all ‘sides of politics’.

Following this morning’s vote, I feel more optimistic that Australia may just get it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Evidence to-date says that Malcolm Turnbull has NO environmental credentials whatsoever. He is city born and bred, and probably thinks vegetation is something you have with your toast in the mornings.

As Minister for Environment under Howard, he did nothing to stop the pulp mill in Tasmania.

His department, did nothing re the series of complaints of the Combined Beaches Community Association (under the EPBC Act) re clearing of a wetland for road construction, 4 metre wide boardwalks through an erosion prone coastal dune at Argentea and the fact that they (Argentea) should never have been allowed to build houses at Upolu Esplanade as residential living was not sanctioned under the Daikyo's initial referral to the EPBC. The Thackral mob did not put in a new referral to include this.

All happily approved of by our great Ex-Mayor who seems to be under the impression that he is a wonderful ambassador for the local environment, loved by all and that we residents somehow in our delusional states, would want him back in local politics.

Pass on KB and pass on Malcolm Turnbull! Not impressed so far with Mr Turnbull’s performance.