Home' InDaily : December 4 2009 Contents The Northern Territory Government would not let Uluru be mined.
The Queensland Government would never allow mining on the
Great Barrier Reef.
WOULD YOUR GOVERNMENT SEEK TO ENTRENCH
MINING IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA S ARKAROOLA
Sadly, they would. And they d call it striking a balance.
HOW CAN STRIKING AT THE HEART OF OUR ICONIC
WILDERNESS AREA BE STRIKING A BALANCE, Mr Rann?
3The Independent Weekly
news December 4 - 10, 2009
The SA kingmakers
The Malcolm Turnbull execution was carefully planned. Hendrik Gout examines the power plays behind
some of the most powerful players in Australian politics.
Half past eight and Wednesday
night. In Adelaide the
Rundle Street pubs spill their
drinkers into the warm. Theatres
are brisk; Beautiful People is on the
ABC for those at home.
In Canberra, Mary Jo Fisher
answers the phone quizzically:
Mary Jo doesn t get many phone
calls from reporters. She s a
backbench Adelaide Liberal sena-
tor who replaced the much more
high-profile Amanda Vanstone
when she went off to make a
nuisance of herself in Rome. Like
the other SA Liberals, Senator
Fisher is packing her bags for the
journey home. Christopher Pyne
and others are flying. Nick Minchin
is driving back in the morning;
he says it clears his head, the long
miles out of mobile phone range.
"I feel like I ve been through
a wringer," Senator Fisher says,
sounding wrung out. "But you can t
"Can I write that you feel like
you ve been through a washing
"Well, I guess you can say I ve
been through a wringer then,"
Senator Fisher relents. "We re
paid to do this but people think the
ETS has been black and white. It s
intense, complicated. A real policy
decision we ve all had to make."
Out of the 23 MPs that SA sends
to Canberra, the Liberal Party has
10 -- five in the Lower House and
At least three of these -- Nick
Minchin, Chris Pyne and
Alan Ferguson -- were pivotal
in a tumultuous week which
stripped Malcolm Turnbull of
the Opposition leadership and
delivered it to Tony Abbott.
Without these three, the result
would have been completely
And had any of the others --
Jamie Briggs, Rowan Ramsey,
Andrew Southcott, Patrick
Secker, Cory Bernardi, Simon
Birmingham or Mary Jo Fisher
-- voted differently, the face of
Australian politics would now
scowl with a carbon trading
"This issue was all about policy,
not personality," said Senator
Minchin, crackling on his Holden
Calais hands-free near Jerilderie,
Victoria. "It was all about the
Opposition s approach to the
CPRS (carbon pollution reduction
Senator Minchin has, for the first
time, revealed just how the move
against Malcolm Turnbull began,
gathered force, tripped and almost
toppled, and then recovered to
anoint a successor.
He told The Independent Weekly
he believed without reservation
that Turnbull had to go, and
Minchin himself had given him
that ultimatum. When Turnbull
rejected it, the Minchin forces
It is a measure of Minchin s
power within the circle of the
already powerful that his was no
empty threat. Minchin carries
his persuasiveness in a smooth,
sophisticated satchel, but a studded
club in his free hand.
"It doesn t matter if it s the
president of the local bowls club
or the leader of the Liberal Party.
You seek to persuade them of the
case of why they should support
X or Y," he said. But to understand
Machiavelli or Minchin, we need
to step back from the Senate wing
of Parliament, to the leafy eastern
Adelaide suburbs where this
professional politician has his
electoral office and his home.
And to understand his oppo-
nents, his defeated enemy, we need
to walk into the converted blue-
stone villa in which the Member for
Sturt, Chris Pyne, has his bunker.
Two men, both Liberals, both
MPs, each of a similar background,
social standing and claws tipped in
It is a matter of history that Pyne
is the one now desperately seeking
a dose of antidote and wishing he d
never heard of emissions trading.
There are some who say even
the Climate Change Minister, SA
Labor Senator Penny Wong, doesn t
completely understand the ETS,
but her Labor backbenchers under-
stand that they don t, either. On the
penultimate night of the Turnbull
assassination, she sheepishly told
the senate there had been a flaw of
some kind. The population figures
were out by two million: two cities
the size of Adelaide disappeared in
law. Amendments were still being
"The ETS has been difficult
all the way through," explained
Senator Fisher on Wednesday
night. "From my perspective that s
been the genesis of this. It s been
black and white for very few people.
It s one we struggled over."
Continued Page 4
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