Australia’s Revolving Door Government Spins Again

Australia’s Revolving Door Government Spins Again

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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been ousted from office after facing a rebellion from inside his own Liberal Party over Climate Change Policy. Turnbull is now the 5th Prime Minister to be ousted before completing a full term in office.

7 ministers and 15 others had resigned from Turnbull’s inner circle leaving him vulnerable to attack by his main opponent, Peter Dutton, who was the first to resign from his position as Home Affairs minister.

His replacement is Scott Morrison who was appointed in a 45-40 party-room vote against Peter Dutton who had been the favorite to win.

Turnbull’s removal from office comes on the heels of failed legislation which would have required a 26% cut in emissions, based on 2005 levels, by 2030. Despite the setback, Australia remains on track to meet its Paris climate accord commitments. But his popularity inside his party had been in decline for sometime now due to his progressive views on hot button issues such as marriage equality, climate change, and Australia’s move towards becoming a republic, all of which enjoy broad popularity in the Australian public.

Turnbull told reporters he would hold a party vote on Friday, August 24th, if he received a letter from lawmakers with enough signatures showing support for the challenge to his position. Calling it an “internal insurgency,” Turnbull said he would resign from Parliament if he was deposed.

“The public hate what is going on at the moment,” he said, referring to Australia’s ongoing crisis of leadership, which has seen five prime ministers in the past 11 years, one of whom, Kevin Rudd, served twice.

The Unpopular Climate Change Legislation

The debate on the issue of climate change has been a polarizing one for Australians. The current issue begins in 2016, when the entire state of South Australia lost power on one night after being hit by one of the worst storms in 50 years. The end result was 1.7 million people being left without power and a bitter feud began between state and federal governments over blame. 24 hours after the storm, power had been restored to 90 percent of households but it took days to get power back to the other 10 percent which meant that around 40,000 people in the northern part of the state were without power.

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill defended the handling of the freak storm at the time, saying it was “unprecedented” and that little could have been done to prevent the state-wide power outage.

Entirely missing the big picture, Turnbull’s critics have been calling for more coal fired power plants to be built to prevent future disasters. The Right-wing National Party of Australia have urged the federal government to support new coal-fired power plants and lift the ban on nuclear energy.

Who is Scott Morrison

Morrison is the former Treasurer. He is a devout evangelical Christian who voted against marriage equality. Morrison was also Minister for Immigration and Border Protection in the government of Tony Abbott. During this time he oversaw Operation Sovereign Borders, a responsibility later passed to Peter Dutton. The operation was controversial for its heavy handedness and secrecy.

Journalists had expressed frustration over the lack of information about Operation Sovereign Borders, usually restricted to weekly briefings held by the government. In the briefings, both Morrison and Lieutenant General Angus Campbell who oversaw the operation refused to discuss “operational” or “on-water” matters in response to questions from journalists. Morrison stated that the government was not “operating a shipping news service for people smugglers”.

According to Australian publication ‘The Monthly’ which had done an extensive profile on Morrison in February 2012, he has said “the Bible is not a policy handbook, and I get very worried when people try to treat it like one”. He also reportedly argued in shadow cabinet that the Liberals should exploit community concerns about Muslim immigrants.

Who is Peter Dutton?

The instigator of the Liberal Party rebellion against Malcolm Turnbull, Peter Dutton was until recently the Home Affair Minister who had been responsible for managing some of Australia’s most divisive policies which have resulted in sharp international criticism, including from the U.N. and condemnation from human rights groups. These policies included Operation Sovereign Borders and the indefinite offshore detention of asylum seekers and refugees on the islands of Nauru and Manus.

In defense of his record, Dutton told Fairfax Media in 2017, “This is a tough portfolio… but I get a lot of professional satisfaction out of it.”

Dutton also controversially boycotted Australia’s 2008 national apology to the the Aboriginals over the “Stolen Generations”. Until 1970 the Australian government forcibly took children from their families and placed them into institutions for care until they reached adulthood. The exact number of children removed is unknown.

Dutton defended himself by saying the apology would not deliver “tangible outcomes” for children today.

 

Photo: Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivers the key-note address to kick off the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 2, 2017. (Dept. of Defense photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro/Released)

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