It’s on. Brendan Nelson’s thrown down the gauntlet. The Liberal Party will determine its leadership tomorrow morning after Nelson called on a spill. Perhaps his capital E emo man performance in Parliament today was his audition – or maybe he’d eaten some of those baked beans. At any rate, he’s got one night of that “clear air” that is/was the new cliche/talking point de jour.
You have to wonder if there’s not some level at which this is a bit of subconscious revenge on Peter Costello, whose book launch tomorrow will now surely be “overshadowed”, as the meejah like to say.
Let’s see if the Turnbull boosters’ claims that they already have the numbers are right. Or will Malcolm Turnbull even put his hand up? What happens if he loses? Surely he couldn’t stay on the front bench. Nelson must be dreaming if he thinks this will end the thing. If he marginalises Turnbull to curry favour with the hard right, he’s still got a divided party. If he keeps Turnbull on the front bench, he looks weak. But at least it might kill off the Costellology.
Update: Michael Brissenden reported on the 7 30 Report that Nelson had been more angry than ever seen before (is that possible?) at a party room meeting and had promised to “clean out” his office and the front bench if he wins. He could lose endless commentator Tony Abbott for a start, and the promise regarding the office presumably refers to his habit of going off the reservation and making policy unilaterally – for instance with the $30 a week pension increase. Presumably the implication that Nelson will be clearing out his desk is unintended, but maybe interesting in a Freudian slippy sorta way.
More strange is a reported promise to “toughen up” the line on climate change while simultaneously walking away from the carping opposition to same sex rights in the Senate. This sounds like a typical Nelson left/right straddle to me, but apparently he’s going to show a “different” side to his leadership. More props? No more truck trekking? Who knows?
Turnbull is standing by the way.
More: Possum has posted Nelson’s press release.
Update: Bruce Billson, the Shadow Minister for Communications (who knew?), duly communicated on Lateline tonight. It wasn’t 100% clear, but he seemed to be suggesting that Malcolm Turnbull might remain on the front bench if Nelson wins. Yeah, right, that’d be smart. But it does show that Nelson’s inclusive or something. Oh, and “strong action on climate change without wrecking the economy” may or may not be a different stance from their most recent unintelligible confusion. But communications expert Billson appeared pleased that it was a nifty soundbite. Who thinks that somehow all this isn’t going to be over tomorrow morning?
Decided [by Kim]: It’s Turnbull by 45-41. New open thread here.
Update [by Kim]: I’ve put up a post with some analysis of what Turnbull needs to do here.
Photo courtesy of Grodscorp.