Malcolm Turnbull

Turnbull pleases no one on day one

Tuesday wasn’t a great start to the Malcolm Turnbull Prime Ministership.

For many on the right side of politics, going overnight from the big ‘C’ conservative Tony Abbott, to the small ‘l’ liberal Malcolm Turnbull was hurting. The conservative shock jocks were hunting in a pack yesterday morning. 2GB’s Ray Hadley and Alan Jones were beside themselves, and conservative commentator Andrew Bolt was experiencing a nuclear meltdown.

Australia’s racist fascists were also practically losing their minds over Tony Abbott’s departure from leadership.

On the other side of the political spectrum, progressives were not too pleased either. They were not threatening a revolution, or having the kind of meltdown as the shock jocks, but quiet resignation set in when it became clear Malcolm Turnbull would lead by … not leading.

The baseline expectations from a Malcolm Turnbull Prime Ministership were a change to Australia’s inadequate climate change policies, and a fresh, sensible approach to marriage equality instead of the appalling shambles Tony Abbott created.

To my great disappointment, Malcolm Turnbull announced he’s happy with the existing Coalition climate change policy, despite having once described it as ‘bullshit,’ and previously called climate change a significant issue to be confronted.

Climate change policy is an exercise in risk management. No reasonable person could regard the risk as being so low that no action was warranted.
Transcript of Malcolm Turnbull’s Speech to the House of Representatives on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bills 2010 (The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 2010)

In 2015 you can’t have a grand economic vision for the future without accepting consensus climate science, and taking meaningful steps to alleviate the effects of climate change. Sadly, our current climate policies are anything but meaningful.

Malcolm Turnbull also confirmed the government’s existing policy on marriage equality would stand – the issue is to go to a plebiscite sometime after the next election.

This despite the fact our federal Parliament has the power to pass the required legislation, as confirmed by the High Court of Australia. Funny how 54 people can change the leader of the country overnight, but for the gays to marry apparently the entire country must have a say …

I am also hesitant to trust Malcolm Turnbull with the marriage equality plebiscite – I still recall the fate of his ‘unlosable’ republican referendum of 1999 which went down like a lead balloon.

Some consider Malcolm Turnbull a better salesman than Tony Abbott, but if he will be peddling the same tired, old policies, being a better salesman might not be enough in the long run.

I presume certain compromises had to be offered by Malcolm Turnbull to the right-wing of the Liberal Party in order to secure their endorsement for his leadership challenge on Monday.

However, if he fails to deliver a policy shift on the issues that contributed to the downfall of Tony Abbott, such as climate change and marriage equality, and can’t demonstrate a significant departure from those failed policies, the game will be over for Malcolm Turnbull before it began.

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