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Musical chairs: on Australia’s new Prime Minister
Scott Morrison’s biggest challenge as Australian PM will be to see out his term
As Scott Morrison assumes charge as Australia’s Prime Minister, the question is whether he can put an end to the country’s protracted political instability. He takes over from Malcolm Turnbull after a contest for the leadership of the Liberal Party, and is the sixth person to be Prime Minister in just over a decade; during this time none has lasted a full three-year term. Political instability feeds off an elusive bipartisan consensus on Canberra’s energy and environmental policy. Differences over finding an effective approach to tackle global warming go to the heart of divisions between the conservative and moderate sections within the Liberal Party in the world’s largest coal-exporting nation. This week, in a bid to stave off a challenge to his leadership, Mr. Turnbull deferred legislation on national emissions reduction targets it had committed to under the Paris climate accord. The overall package, which aims to reduce energy prices and comply with emissions standards, won broad backing from the Opposition centre-left Labour Party and the business community. But the ruling Liberal-National coalition’s efforts at a consensus were hamstrung by hostile backbenchers led by Peter Dutton, who launched an abortive bid for leadership and resigned as Minister for Home Affairs. Mr. Dutton is even said to have thought of pulling Australia out of the Paris accord. Last October, Canberra decided to phase out subsidies for renewable energy from 2020, under a policy that ostensibly sought to balance reductions in greenhouse gas emissions with the need to deliver reliable and affordable electricity. The climate-sceptic Tony Abbott, also of the Liberal Party, repealed a carbon emissions tax in 2014 when he was Prime Minister, fulfilling a poll promise to “axe the tax.” But he was careful to project the move as a mere reduction in the tax, not as an easing of emissions targets.
The Liberal Party’s bruising leadership contest that led to Mr. Morrison’s elevation was the second in the span of a week. Having survived a vote on Tuesday, Mr. Turnbull stepped aside from the race on Friday, which also dealt a blow to Mr. Dutton’s leadership ambitions. With the dramatic developments of the week behind, there is hope of respite at least until the 2019 general elections. In any case, the ruling coalition’s razor-thin majority in Parliament affords the government little leverage on policy initiatives. Mr. Morrison is considered a canny politician, capable of navigating the tumultuous currents within the Liberal Party. The first test of his dynamism will be his ability to ride out his time in office until the coming elections. But the bigger task is for Australia’s leaders to rise above partisan ends to address humanity’s gravest challenge of global warming.
1. Protracted: (adjective)
Meaning: lasting for a long time or longer than expected or usual.
Synonyms: continued, drawn-out, enduring, extensive, expanded, lasting, lengthened, prolonged, running, stretched, enlarged, dragging, lengthy, lingering, sustained, elongated
Antonyms: abbreviated, abridged, curtailed, cut back, shortened
2. Elusive: adjective
Meaning: difficult to find, catch, or achieve.
Synonyms: evasive, fugitive, slippery
Antonyms: accessible, approachable, attainable, available, convenient, obtainable, reachable
3. Stave off: (verb)
Meaning: to keep from happening by taking action in advance
Synonyms: avert, forestall, head off, help, obviate, preclude, prevent
Antonyms: abet, aid, assist, ease, facilitate, smooth, unclog, advance, cultivate, encourage, forward, foster, further, nurture, promote, allow, leave, let, permit
4. Defer: verb
Meaning: put off (an action or event) to a later time; postpone.
Synonyms: delay, hold off (on), hold over, hold up, lay over, postpone, put off, put over, remit, shelve
Antonyms: act, deal (with), decide (upon), do, work (on)
5. Hamstrung: Past tense of Hamstring(verb)
Meaning: severely restrict the efficiency or effectiveness of.
Synonyms: counterproductive, feckless, ineffective, ineffectual, inefficacious, inefficient, inexpedient
Antonyms: effective, effectual, efficacious, efficient, expedient, operant, ultraefficient
6. Ostensibly: (adverb)
Meaning: to all outward appearances
Synonyms: apparently, evidently, ostensively, presumably, putatively, seemingly, supposedly
Antonyms: implausibly, impossibly, improbably, incredibly
7. Bruising: (adjective)
Meaning: (of a competitive situation) conducted in an aggressive way and likely to be stressful.
Synonyms: displeasing, hurting, distressing
Meaning: having or showing a practical cleverness or judgment
Synonyms: astute, clear-eyed, clear-sighted, hard-boiled, hardheaded, heady, knowing, savvy, sharp, sharp-witted, shrewd, smart
Meaning: marked by sudden or violent disturbance
Synonyms: cataclysmal, convulsive, stormy, tempestuous, turbulent
Antonyms: calm, peaceful, placid, serene, tranquil, undisturbed, unperturbed, unshaken, untroubled
Meaning: giving cause for alarm; serious.
Synonyms: serious, important, all-important, profound, significant, momentous, weighty, of great consequence; vital, crucial, critical, acute; urgent, pressing, exigent; pivotal, precarious
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