Federal Liberal Party members remain confused. Last week Malcolm Turnbull refused to rule in or rule out a return to WorkChoices. His fence-sitting was driven by two opposing forces: his innate recognition of the injustice that drove the WorkChoices policy of reducing the wages of ordinary Australians, while executives reaped double-digit rises in their salary packages; and the more extreme right wing of the party that still beats the WorkChoices drum, and whose support he needs. His leadership is simply not sufficiently strong to properly bury WorkChoices, or any other euphemistic name that the party cares to use.
Brendan Nelson gave his valedictory speech to Parliament this week. In it he again voiced his opposition to an emissions trading scheme (ETS). Malcolm Turnbull, his successor as Liberal Party leader, could not get to the backbenches quickly enough to shake hands and finalise Dr Nelson's departure. Imagine, then, the Libs' surprise the following day to see Brendan Nelson being appointed as Australia's ambassador to the EU and NATO. He becomes the latest example of former Liberal Party MP's and Senators to be appointed to Labor Government positions. His ambassadorial role will see him argue Australia's case for an ETS! No sign of an appointment for ex-Prime Minister John Howard, though.
Internally, the Liberal Party remains divided on WorkChoices, an Emissions Trading Scheme, leadership, the need for and size of an economic stimulus for Australia. In short, they remain a rabble, led by a man who cannot improve his electoral approval, where all but one of the women have been pushed into the background, and which cannot seem to agree on many policy matters with their Coalition "partner".
Malcolm Turnbull has not shown sufficient leadership to draw together the different elements in the Liberal Party. He seems to be there under sufferance, in which case he will likely be replaced when those elements congeal after the next Federal election in 2010, whereupon he will be replaced, possibly by Joe Hockey.