Liberal leadership tussle

A date has not yet been set by the Liberal party room for the leadership ballot, but the pressure will be on after the Labor caucus elects its ministry on Thursday for the Liberals to get their own leadership team quickly in place.

The battle for the Liberal leadership is on, with former ministers Brendan Nelson, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott all throwing their hats into the ring.

Turnbull highlighted his strong business experience when he launched his bid for the leadership yesterday. “All my life I’ve been an entrepreneur and a self starter,” he said.

In comments typical of his confident – some would say over-confident – style, Turnbull predicted that he could lead the Coalition to a win at the next election.

“We’ve been walloped by the electorate. But we have to get off the mat and get started. We have to maintain and accelerate our momentum. We can win in 2010,” Turnbull said.

By contrast, former defence minister Brendan Nelson emphasised the rebuilding task ahead in his pitch to lead the party. “The key tasks, as I see them, are to rally our party and see that it is unified,” he said.

Nelson has also hinted that he will take the party in a more socially progressive direction than was the case under John Howard, telling reporters that he believes that “not just an economic vision of our future but also a human and a social one, are no less important to us than getting the economic fundamentals right.”

And then there’s Tony Abbott, the former health minister whose gaff-filled campaign and more conservative politics have most commentators rating him a distant third in the leadership race.

His leadership push so far seems to have been comprised mostly of reassuring people that his occasionally blunt style could be a positive for the party.

“I think I have reasonably good people skills,” Abbott said. “I think in the months and years ahead, people are going to want substance, not spin from their political leaders.”

On a lighter note, you can now bid for the Liberal leadership on eBay.

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