I didn’t get to see the environment debate live, but there are plenty of lengthy excerpts available on the ABC’s news site. For entertainment value, I would have loved to see Turnbull’s face on the several occasions Garrett mentioned “25 nuclear reactors” – whatever Turnbull thinks of nuclear on its face, given the fact he didn’t even bother to respond he must know the politics have been shocking for the government.
More broadly, the trouble with the whole setup, of course, is that Garrett shouldn’t have been debating Turnbull at all. Given that climate change policy has effectively been run by the clique who get their scientific information from The Weekly Standard – Minchin, Vaille, Downer, and Howard himself – the fact that Turnbull appears to be a relatively sane conservative on this issue is neither here nor there. Sure, Garrett’s personal positions on the environment are undoubtedly on the fringes of his own party’s spectrum of opinion. But – occasional moments of candour/gaffes aside – the positions he’s taken publicly since becoming a minister are pretty much Labor orthodoxy. Turnbull, however, has spent the last couple of years arguing for positions that are completely contradictory to the well-known views of half the Cabinet he is a member of, let alone the broader party.