07/10/2009 - 09:01

Bishop aims to sway WA Libs on ETS

07/10/2009 - 09:01

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Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop will be in Perth this weekend to try to head-off a Liberal Party revolt over the emissions trading scheme, after Malcolm Turnbull said he would push for negotiations.

Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop will be in Perth this weekend to try to head-off a Liberal Party revolt over the emissions trading scheme, after Malcolm Turnbull said he would push for negotiations.

The Western Australian Liberal Party's state conference on Saturday will vote on a motion to delay negotiations over the ETS until next year.

Mr Turnbull's plan is to negotiate amendments to Labor's scheme when it is put before parliament in November.

Ms Bishop will speak on the conference motion on Saturday and put the case for negotiation.

"That motion has been around for a long time, much has moved on since then," she told ABC Radio on Wednesday, adding she would put the facts "as I know them to be at the time".

Ms Bishop said she would tell the conference about shadow cabinet's plan to amend the scheme to make it better.

She did not dampen speculation the opposition may try to filibuster the ETS legislation in the Senate.

"If this is the greatest challenge of our generation, it should be subject to one of the greatest debates of our generation."

The government should not suppress debate, she said.

Meanwhile, Mr Turnbull has admitted the current shambolic state of the federal Liberal Party doesn't reflect well on his leadership.

But he's also issued a warning to those within the party who've openly challenged him in recent days: "If you want to keep on losing elections just keep on fighting among yourselves".

Earlier on Tuesday, NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said the Liberals in Canberra were a "shambles" and the public had treated them accordingly.

Tuesday's Newspoll shows Labor up three points at 58 per cent on a two-party preferred basis, with the coalition dropping to 42 per cent.

"It appears as though there are a small number of people in Malcolm Turnbull's party room who have to learn the lessons of history and disunity the hard way, by a second election defeat," Mr O'Farrell told reporters in Sydney.

Mr Turnbull later told ABC TV that Mr O'Farrell had seen first hand where disunity and squabbling led.

The NSW Liberals have been in the opposition wilderness for nearly 15 years.

"He recognises it (disunity) when he sees it," Mr Turnbull said.

"As he said, if you want to keep on losing elections just keep on fighting among yourselves.

"Discipline is important and it's vital that we work as a team."

He acknowledged the current state of affairs wasn't a good look for him or the party.

Bickering over support for an amended Labor government emissions trading scheme (ETS) and the failure of senior frontbencher Peter Dutton to gain endorsement for a Gold Coast-based seat have added to Mr Turnbull's woes.

Senior Liberals on Tuesday called on colleagues to get behind their leader.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey suggested the Liberals needed to pull up their socks.

"You've got to work damn hard and you've got to have good policies that focus on the best interests of the Australian people and get away from giving running commentary on your own side," Mr Hockey told Sky News.

In an effort to reassert his authority, Mr Turnbull has called coalition MPs back to Canberra a day early when parliament resumes.

They'll now consider Mr Turnbull's proposed amendments to Labor's ETS bills on Sunday October 18. The meeting would normally have been held on the Tuesday.

Last week, Mr Turnbull put his leadership on the line over his wish to negotiate amendments to Labor's legislation before it's back in parliament in November.

The coalition shadow ministry meets in Melbourne on Wednesday to discuss the "framework" of the proposed amendments.

But West Australian Liberal senator Mathias Cormann joined a string of backbenchers expressing concern on the need to have the ETS bills passed before a UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen in December.

"We should not be negotiating amendments with a view of finalising the legislation before Copenhagen," Senator Cormann told ABC radio on Tuesday.

While the Nationals are totally opposed to the government's ETS, many Liberals want to wait until after December's United Nations climate change summit before considering it.

But Mr Turnbull denies his back is against the party room wall on emissions trading.

"I don't think that's right at all," he said.

"I have the support of the shadow cabinet and I'm sure I'll have the support of the party room."

Mr Turnbull faces another challenge with Mr Dutton saying it's up to the Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP) to find him a seat after he failed to win preselection for McPherson.

Mr Dutton has ruled out running for his old Brisbane-based seat of Dickson or the new Queensland seat of Wright. He also says he won't seek a spot in the Senate either.

"Now the LNP in Queensland has some thinking to do," he told reporters on Tuesday.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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