#Higgins and #Bradfield will give Abbott a positive boost in his leadership and should significantly change the terms of the AGW debate.
There has been a number of byelections caused by the Opposition since they lost office in 2007. Mayo and Lyne were both similar to this one in that the ALP did not contest. In both those seats there was a large protest vote against the Coalition which resulted in one of those seats – Lyne – being lost.
The media expected the Liberal Party to do badly in these byelections, with some justification given the leadership mess, and the presupposition that an anti-ETS position was at odds with the electorate. (If you want to know what the electorate really thought click here.)
That the Liberal Party actually had a swing towards it after preferences means that the media will have to write it up as a good result, given their previous expectation and reporting.
This means a number of things.
- The Liberals will be more comfortable with Abbott, so it should make it easier for him to assert his leadership in the short-term
- The media can’t dimiss Abbott as being out of the mainstream and unelectable
- AGW and the ETS will be subjected to closer scrutiny as it is now obvious that a large number of electors do not automatically regard them as reasons to vote for the government
That in Higgins the Greens ran high profile global warming hysteric Clive Hamilton who has argued democracy is not up to the challenge of dealing with global warming reinforces that last point. Perhaps now we will see some Australian coverage of the fraud that has been exposed amongst some of the paleo-climatologists working out of the Hadley Climate Research Unit and their international peers with data records deliberately manipulated to show exaggerated late 20th Century warming.
Abbott’s elevation was based almost entirely on the ETS issue, so any change in the terms of debate will help him. It will also probably harden his line on it.
These results make it less lkely that the government will call a double dissolution. They demonstrate that a good result is not a foregone conclusion, and that the Greens are not necessarily going to do well.
But paradoxically the result makes Abbott’s task harder because in the public’s mind it will make him a more serious contender for PM. That means electors will be watching him more closely and demanding more of him. So while it helps his authority in the short-term, it puts him under more pressure in the longer term.
Note: I am not suggesting that Abbott will win the next election, as some on FB appear to think I am. I still expect Labor to win the next federal election which has been my consistent position since the last election. (Added 6:48 a.m. December 6, 2009)