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Turnbull turns the tables on would-be challen -

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Turnbull turns the tables on would-be challengers

Alexandra Kirk reported this story on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 12:10:00

ELEANOR HALL: To yet another dramatic day in the Federal Parliament.

Despite only this morning ruling out a meeting on his leadership, the battered Liberal Party Leader
Malcolm Turnbull has now ordered Opposition MPs and senators to meet this afternoon to sort out the
divisions which erupted during the debate over the emissions trading deal.

Rebel MP Wilson Tuckey wanted to have a vote on the leadership tomorrow, but in an attempt to
outmanoeuvre his opponents, Malcolm Turnbull is now challenging them to call on the vote today.

At this stage there's is only one likely leadership contender - that's the former Howard government
minister Kevin Andrews. Higher profile MPs Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott ruled themselves out this
morning.

From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: This morning Malcolm Turnbull ruled out calling another party room meeting so
Wilson Tuckey could call a leadership spill.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: If people don't like my leadership there were many opportunities yesterday and
indeed several invitations for those people who are complaining bitterly about this to move for a
spill. If they wanted to do that they could have done it. They chose not to and everyone was there.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But he's now had a change of heart. Early this afternoon he'll test his support in
a bid to shore up his leadership and short circuit the trouble Wilson Tuckey and others are causing
him.

Mr Tuckey concedes Malcolm Turnbull has the numbers at this stage. One source says if the
Opposition Leader gets a resounding majority, his strategy will have worked. But it's very risky if
he wins only narrowly.

The heart of the problem is Malcolm Turnbull rammed the emissions trading deal through the party
room, having staked his leadership on the issue. But he's now leading a deeply divided Coalition.

The majority support for the deal he got is slim, though he won't reveal how the numbers stacked
up, only saying it was a clear majority.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: There is a minority in the Liberal Party that basically do not want to do
anything about climate change. That is not my view, it is not the view of the majority of the
Liberal Party, it is not the view of the Australian people.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The bottom line is Mr Turnbull and his supporters say he has enough senators to get
the deal through the Senate.

Andrew Laming says his leader's done the right thing for the party and the country.

ANDREW LAMING: You can have a few in your party who are grumpy old men about this kind of an issue,
but the more you hide from the average voter and develop in your own mind a policy or an idea or a
direction that isn't what the Australian people want, the less you're able to represent your
constituents.

And can I put one simple test to everyone out there who's watching: has anyone been approached by a
Rudd voter from 2007 who says please vote down this ETS and I will change my vote to the Coalition?
If you found one of those people in Australia let me know. I'm in the most marginal seat in
Australia. I haven't had one of them.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But others are more interested in Malcolm Turnbull's maths.

PETER SLIPPER: Look, the result of the party meeting as declared by the leader last night was about
as dodgy as a Zimbabwean election organised by Robert Mugabe.

SENATOR: There was a fair margin that said they don't want to go ahead with this so there has to be
a bit of creative accounting going on to work out that the numbers were reversed somehow.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But Stuart Robert says the result was clear.

STUART ROBERT: However you slice and dice it there was a majority. Malcolm Turnbull exerted his
leadership and we now move forward constructively to work with the Government.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Some say it may be time for a reshuffle to shore up the Leader's support in shadow
cabinet, that the test will be if any of the Liberal senators opposed to a deal end up crossing the
floor, defying the official shadow cabinet and party room position.

And after the Senate vote is over and politicians go back to their electorates for the summer
break, allowing the party room temperature to cool down, they say Malcolm Turnbull will need to
mend fences with the more amenable of his colleagues.

But Wilson Tuckey's not one of them.

Kevin Andrews is a willing contender for the leadership.

KEVIN ANDREWS: I've said if there's a spill then I'm prepared to stand.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Those often mentioned as possible future leaders, like Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott,
this morning ruled out putting their hands up. But that was before Malcolm Turnbull called the
meeting.

One of the things that has caused a lot of anger in the Coalition is a decision by Mr Turnbull to
commission and privately fund some economic research on emissions trading, which he initially put
to the Government and not his party room. He argues the Government dismissed the thrust of the
argument so it was irrelevant.

The author of the Frontier Economics report is Danny Price.

DANNY PRICE: So the amendments that has been negotiated are not the amendments we costed. What we
costed was a completely different set of amendments and they are infinitely superior to what
Malcolm Turnbull's ended up with. He hasn't ended up with 75 per cent of what he asked for, nothing
like it. It's probably negative 10 per cent.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Mr Price says the new emissions deal struck between the Government and the
Opposition is worse than Kevin Rudd's original scheme.

DANNY PRICE: I think that most people know that I'm not a fan of the CPRS but to be to be honest I
would chose the CPRS over this amended package.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Why?

DANNY PRICE: It actually, well, it will lead to even bigger deficits, even more churn between the
economy and the Government and more uncertainty for the businesses that employ most of us.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So what does it say about jobs do you think?

DANNY PRICE: It's actually worse. It will actually cost jobs. I saw Malcolm Turnbull last night
talking about the package saving jobs. It'll do quite the opposite. It will actually be worse than
the CPRS. So the CPRS was already going to cost tens of thousands of jobs. The amendment package
will actually be worse for employees and they'll have lower wages, higher taxes, fewer jobs, a
smaller economy.

All Malcolm Turnbull has done is actually loaded up a bigger deficit to the economy and sliced up a
smaller economic pie a different way than Rudd would.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Danny Price from Frontier Economics, ending that report from Alexandra Kirk in
Canberra.