Will Fielding stay crazy long enough?
At this point, the only chance for survival for the Liberal Party is that Steve Fielding will join them to refer the ETS to a committee (I assume Fielding’s vote is enough to pass a procedural motion, is that correct?). If this happens, the threat of an immediate DD is gone, and they have the chance to crawl back to sanity and try to pass a bill in the New Year, assuming Rudd lets them. That would get the issue off the table and give them some chance of avoiding annihilation, particularly if the economy weakens over 2010. But Fielding prefers the idea of a Royal Commission. If he sticks with this, the Senate will either reject the bill or pass it as the result of a Liberal Party split.
As I’ve said previously, I hope they reject. Then we will either get the original ETS legislation or, better, a Labor-Greens deal.
fn1. Of course, it’s now open to Rudd to come back from Copenhagen (which looks certain to produce a political agreement, if not a legally binding deal) and announce that the deal he made with Turnbull is no longer on the table. Then the Abbott-Minchin Liberals would have the choice of voting for the original ETS, or fighting a double dissolution. Rudd has so many winning options now, it’s hard to describe them all.