Australia has a new prime minister after the governing coalition refused to support global warming-related legislation pushed by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Turnbull stepped down Friday as a vote of no confidence loomed. Turnbull has been replaced by Scott Morrison, a man who helped craft Australia’s strict immigration policy and a more conservative member of Parliament.
Former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was expected to replace Turnbull, but lost in an upset ballot. Morrison beat Dutton in a 45-to-40 vote Friday.
“There was a determined insurgency from a number of people both in the party room and backed by voices, powerful voices, in the media,” Turnbull said Friday, according to CNN.
Turnbull’s leadership came into question when his conservative coalition government split over proposed legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to comply with the Paris climate accord.
Turnbull’s so-called National Energy Guarantee would have reduced energy sector emissions 26 percent by 2030 as part of Australia’s Paris accord pledge. But he couldn’t get support from a group of conservative members of Parliament led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Abbott initially led the conservative governing coalition to victory in 2013 on a platform that included getting rid of Australia’s carbon tax. The tax had been imposed by the previous left-wing government and would eventually morph into a cap-and-trade system.
“The carbon tax was basically socialism masquerading as environmentalism, and that’s why it’s going to get abolished,” Abbott said shortly after winning the 2013 election.
Parliament voted to abolish the carbon tax, but Abbott was ousted from leadership in 2015 by Turnbull. Now, the tables have turned again.
Turnbull delayed the vote on his climate bill, but it was too late. Turnbull’s ability to lead the government came under fire, and he announced he would resign after a new prime minister had been chosen.
However, Turnbull’s departure could cost the current government its one-seat majority in Parliament. Turnbull’s department will lead to a special election or even a general election, potentially leading to more losses.
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