If there is one thing I value in political leaders above all else is that they stand their ground on fundamental values when it is crunch time. There are very few political leaders who I have seen this quality in. Yesterday, we saw Malcolm Turnbull rise to that status. After months of trying to push the Coalition towards supporting some form of climate change legislation, he called an end to the internal debate and pushed ahead with their negotiated outcome with the Government.
The political conventional wisdom is that he has killed his career over this. I am not so sure but I am sure of one thing: if the legislation passes the Senate today, Turnbull will have ensured his place in history. More so than the Government, he is moved to action when he himself was pivotal. Had he caved or resigned, there would be no ETS anytime soon. This is the very definition of historical significance.
Alongside that, his press conference explaining this was concise and important. First, he believes in taking action and in the policy he is supporting as it is one that he pushed for. Second, for those who are sceptics, the policy is an appropriate form of insurance. Finally, his party made a deal and agree to it and has to stick by those agreements if they are going to have a meaningful role. It seems incredible to me that others in the past faced with so compelling a set of reasons to make a choice have failed to do so. But kudos to Turnbull for taking a stand and not being afraid to air dissent.
Again, the political conventional wisdom is that he will suffer for this. I wonder if that is so and whether the Australian people might actually support the values we have seen expressed here. We will see.