(CNN)There is a certain mindset in politics, present the world over and across the political spectrum, which distrusts expertise. That mindset is presently revealing itself in Australia, where this week a small group of conservative-minded members of parliament held the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, hostage over climate policy.
Turnbull’s center-right Liberal party had pledged to reduce emissions from Australia’s energy companies more than a quarter (from 2005 levels) by 2030, a key part of its efforts to meet its international obligations.
But several of his own MPs, led by his predecessor as prime minister and long-term rival Tony Abbott, forced him into a climbdown by threatening to vote against the legislation. Turnbull’s government barely has a majority in the House of Representatives, and losing such a key vote could have led to a leadership challenge. Cowed, he dropped the pledge, and on Tuesday narrowly survived the revolt.