The Australian Liberals finally won some serious power yesterday when the Nationals agreed to form a coalition with them in the prosperous state of Western Australia. Labor in WA called an early election and it has backfired spectacularly on them.
But the real breaking news from downunder is the national Liberal leader’s decision to call a John Major-inspired, put-up-or-shut-up leadership election.
Mr Brendan Nelson has been subject to constant leadership speculation since assuming the post in the wake of John Howard’s 2007 election defeat.
Two men have been most talked about as successors to Mr Nelson, former Treasurer Peter Costello and current Liberal Treasury spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull.
Mr Costello effectively ruled himself out of the race last week:
Likeliest to challenge Mr Nelson is Malcolm Turnbull. Mr Turnbull would be more of a modernising candidate with a very strong commitment to environmentalism and party reform.
BRENDAN NELSON’S FULL STATEMENT
"Tomorrow morning, I will be declaring the leadership of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party vacant.
I will be a candidate.
If I am re-endorsed as leader, I will remain absolutely determined and committed to the future of our Party and Australia.
But as we move forward, I am asking our Party to draw a line in the sand and mark a transition – from the difficult aftermath of an election defeat to the building and presentation of a credible, attractive and inspiring alternative government.
In doing so, we will make a renewed commitment to unity and discipline, to focus less on internal preoccupations and more on the Rudd Government, policy and the important issues concerning everyday Australians.
Millions of Australians are counting on us – to hold the Government to account and provide Australians with a credible, attractive and inspiring alternative.
I am asking my colleagues to make a renewed commitment to do just that."