Like Banquo’s ghost, Malcolm Turnbull is hovering over his old seat of Wentworth, where one of the most significant byelections in Australian political history will be held next Saturday.
The former prime minister may be palling around with investment bankers in New York, but he remains a pervasive presence in Wentworth. The issues that destroyed his Liberal Party leadership eight weeks ago – climate change and energy policy – will influence Saturday’s result and could, possibly, even extinguish the one-seat majority of the government that rejected Turnbull as its leader.
In a further irony, this outcome is not just advocated by the Labor candidate, Tim Murray, and high-profile independent candidates in Wentworth like former AMA head, Dr Kerryn Phelps, but by the former prime minister’s son, Alex Turnbull. The issues are – you guessed it – climate change.
Another former Liberal leader and member for Wentworth, John Hewson, is also pushing for a “protest vote” against the Liberal Party.
Meanwhile, debate about climate change, education, tax, refugees, energy policy, the ABC, gender, sexual preference, and even the future of the Coalition government reverberate in an intense, at times boisterous, byelection campaign. However, the outcome is more likely to hinge on untangling a proverbial spaghetti bowl of preferences from a Melbourne Cup field of candidates.