I’m not going to release my own comments to the party room, because they were along the lines of my remarks to media on the way into the parliament, but the rampant hostile briefing of journalists while the meeting was underway does require a response.
Leaking and briefing seem to have become the norm but I’d prefer to say what I think on the record and under my own name.
Yes, as the PM said at its close, there was party room support for the minister’s position. Much of it though, was of the “yes…but” variety: congratulating him for the work he’d done in difficult circumstances and saying that the NEG was the best way through a bad situation.
This statement was released after the Liberal Party this morning voted for Paris, careerist climateers, rent-seekers, bird-mincers, even higher electricity prices and electoral oblivion
But most then added that what really mattered was actually getting prices down – not just talking about modelling – and actually getting more despatchable power into the system via ACCC recommendation 4.
Unfortunately, most explanations of how the NEG (as it stands without price targets) might theoretically get prices down sound like merchant bankers’ gobbledigook.
It was a real pity that the meeting broke up before the chairman of the backbench committee, Craig Kelly, was able to finish his contribution.
Yes, there were lots of pleas for unity, but as one MP said, we’ve got to be loyal to our electorates and to party members too, and not show the “unity of lemmings”.
Yes, there was lots of regard for the “experts” and for “business leaders” but as one MP said “I’m not here for the technocrats”.
I heard at least four lower house MPs formally reserve their position on the legislation and at least a dozen express serious concerns about the NEG or about turning the non-binding Paris targets into law with massive penalties attached.
This is the big question that the party room didn’t really grapple with: when the big emitters are not meeting Paris, why should we? Especially, as even the Chief Scientist said, the difference meeting our target would make is “virtually nothing”.
Tony Abbott was the elected Prime Minister of Australia until replaced by Malcolm Turnbull, who reduced the majority he inherited to a single seat.