EDITORIAL WEDNESDAY 19.05.10.
In what has been reported as a turnaround, and even compared to a backflip, Malcolm Turnbull has expressed his support for Tony Abbott’s so called Positive Action Plan on Climate Change. Coming just a day after Tony Abbott’s remarkable admission that not everything he says can be taken at face value, it would be easy to get the idea that the contagion is spreading. Sure, none of us really trust any politician, but surely we can believe that Malcolm Turnbull was sincere when he claimed that an emissions trading scheme was, in his view, the best mechanism for dealing with carbon dioxide emissions. After all, he lost the party leadership over it, he damn near quit politics because of it, and he previously described the coalition positive action plan as “bullshit”. Could it be that not everything Malcolm says is “gospel truth” either?
Just what exactly did Malcolm say yesterday that resulted in widespread reports that he had expressed some sort of change of heart? Well, what he said was this: “While the Coalition's direct action plan is inferior, in my view, to a thorough, economy-wide, market-based mechanism which puts a price on emissions, it is nonetheless superior to the Rudd government's climate change policy vacuum.” In other words, Malcolm Turnbull said that he still believes an emissions trading scheme is still the way to go, but now that the Rudd government has put its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in the too hard basket at least until 2013, then doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing. Even if that “something” is a plan that he has previously criticised as cattle manure.
It’s not exactly a backflip, or even a turnaround, but maybe it does show that Mr. Turnbull is finally succumbing to politicians’ disease and beginning to say whatever he thinks people want to hear. If that’s the case, it won’t be long before he becomes just like Tony Abbott and nobody will be able to believe anything he says. That would be a pity, especially after he received so many accolades for having the courage of his convictions and sticking to his principles. But perhaps we were mistaken about that in the first place. Perhaps we have all forgotten that he was a lawyer and a merchant banker before becoming a politician, and those professions also have a reputation for massaging the facts to suit the occasion. All of which would seem to indicate that Mr. Turnbull will be ready and waiting to take over the leadership again when the opportunity arises.
The only question is whether that will be before or after the election.