Game on in Australia

A few days ago Peter Costello announced he will contnue with his plans to retire from politics, and not take up the Liberal Party leadership which would has been his for the taking.

Now Liberal Leader Brendan Nelson has called for a leadership ballot, to force Malcolm Turnbull to challenge or pledge loyalty. Turnbull has confirmed he will challenge. Nelson beat Turnbull in an upset victory last year.

In theory Nelson should be toast as he has massively low approval ratings, and his colleagues have little confidence in him.

But Turnbull, while talented, is very unpopular with many of his colleagues. It is likely Nelson will retain the leadership. A pity to some degree, as I think Turnbull has many good ideas and policies in terms of economic reform.

Also Labor’s one year reign of total government is over. Since they won the federal election they were uniqely in government in all eight states and territories as well as federally. That has ended in Western Australia though.

The Liberal Party got 38.5% and Labor 35.8%, plus Nationals 4.9% (and Greens 11.9%). The Nationals only contested a few seats and won four seats giving the balance of power.

Now you might think this means an automatic victory for the Libs, but WA is the one state where the Libs and Nats are not formally aligned, so just like in NZ in 1996 the major parties bidded for the Nats affection and they negotiated deals with each party. They finally opted to go with the Liberal Party.

UPDATE: Turnbull won 45-41. This is good.

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