The Coalition voted in a new leader yesterday. It was widely expected that the incumbent, would have to go. He made a tactical blunder in supporting the government's Emissions Trading Scheme legislation without first obtaining the support of the party. That was never going to happen. It is not because the Coalition is made up of global warming sceptics but because they see the bill as a tax scheme without benefit. They are probably right - and that just makes it more difficult.
This morning's papers leave no room for any doubt that the media is not happy with the new leader. He is a conservative, a former Catholic priest in training, a man with strong views on abortion, workplace flexibility, taking responsibility for oneself, looking out for your neighbour when they need it and a monarchist to boot. Not nice. This is not the sort of politics the media wants. It makes people think. I will reserve judgment. He has been known to put both feet into his mouth before now.
Nevertheless it raises the question of whether he will lead the Coalition to the next election. Given that election may well be a double dissolution this is a very big question indeed. The government is still saying they do not want a double dissolution. The timing for one would now be awkward. Go for a double dissolution before Copenhagen and nothing can be done at Copenhagen. Go for a double dissolution after Copenhagen. There will be no point in doing that unless the Copenhagen conference comes up with something that will give Labor leverage. Given the current track record of such conferences that may not happen. The government therefore also made a tactical blunder in demanding that the legislation be passed before Copenhagen. It was supposed to be the Prime Minister's chance to shine on the world stage. He wanted to lead. He has, without doubt, a view that he is a world leader. He speaks Mandarin - of a sort. What more could you want?
The problem is that Australia is merely a minor player on the world stage. If our first language was not English we would be smaller still. The new leader of the Opposition recognises that. He is prepared to move more cautiously. Is that what we want? We are being told it is not what we want. We can be a world leader. It will not make any difference to climate change. It will bankrupt the economy yet again but it will put us on the world stage.
I will suport an ETS if we cease to mine coal. I have concerns about nuclear safety but, if we sell uranium to other countries for nuclear power then we must also use it ourselves - or cease to sell it. I want to see reforestation taken up as a major issue and major changes to transport and other personal power usage issues.
None of that is likely to happen in a hurry, if it happens at all. The question for now then has to be whether the new Coalition leader will lead or will he be allowed to lead? Will we get an effective Opposition that might allow these issues to be debated? I doubt it. It makes people think. Thinking is dangerous.