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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

News: CPRS Rejected as Abbott Takes the Liberal Throne

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In a knife-edge win yesterday, MP Tony Abbott won control of the Liberal party in a spill against former leader Malcolm Turnbull. A spill motion was carried and three candidates, Turnbull, Abbott and Joe Hockey stood for election by the party room. Hockey was defeated in the first round of voting, and Abbott won the second round over Turnbull by 42 votes to 41.

Speculation over the legitimacy of this win has arisen, suggesting that an MP who was ill and unable to attend the meeting would probably have voted for Turnbull. There was also an informal vote, which may have been intentional or a legitimate mistake, thus meaning Turnbull may have won.

No matter what happened, Abbott is now the Liberal party leader, if only a "temporary" leader as former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke suggested yesterday. As a result of the change in leadership, the party consensus on the CPRS legislation has largely changed to rejecting the legislation.

When the senate voted on the bill, the Greens, Family First and Independent Nick Xenophon voted against it. In addition to this, the Liberal party voted against the CPRS except for Senators Sue Boyce and Judith Troeth. This is the second time that Troeth has crossed the floor against the Liberals this year, the first time being because of her support for a bill that would mean refugees no longer have to pay for their detainment. Troeth will be retiring from the senate next election.
Despite the two Liberal Senators voting with the Government, the bill was rejected today giving Prime Minister Kevin Rudd grounds to call a double dissolution election. Abbott has said that he is not "not afraid" of an election on climate change.

Abbott has also said that he is "not ruling [] out" nuclear power as a response to potential climate change.

In a video addressed to Liberal Party supporters, Abbott explained that the Liberals are now an "alternative" to the Labor party, saying that "that (the alternative), I think is what [the voters] wanted". He also said that the Liberal party "will give the Government a bloody good fight."

The Labor party has already started attacking the new Liberal leader. In an email to Labor party supporters, Labor said "Mr Abbott's extreme views will take Australia backwards", particularly in relation to climate change and WorkChoices, which Abbott supports. The email also includes a link to a campaign video against Mr. Abbott.

This upheaval in leadership has not been good publicity for the Liberals, who face a by-election in Peter Costello's former seat of Higgins this weekend. The Labor party has not fielded a candidate, and the Greens are posing a threat to the blue ribbon seat.

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