Michael Gordan of The Age is a respected political commentator, and his analysis of Kevin Rudd’s “back-flip” on the ETS succinctly sums up the problems the Labor government has created. Not only has it called into question the sincerity of Rudd and Labor’s commitment to taking on climate change, it has also inadvertently fueled the denial movements sense of achievement.
Gordan’s article is worth quoting at length:
PAUL Keating used to say that there was a place for the backflip in politics, provided it was performed with ”the appropriate degree of style and panache”. The former prime minister was not averse to pre-empting his cabinet and unnerving his backbench, so long as it delivered an advantage over his political opponent.
When he reversed his position on the delivery of pay-TV in 1992, he told Parliament he was in good company. ”Greg Louganis, the great American diver, won a gold medal for his backflips,” he said.
What John Howard lacked in panache, he more than made up for with audacity when he reversed his stand on petrol excise back in 2001, and so paved the way for an unlikely Coalition comeback.
His strategy for winning approval was to be upfront about screwing up in the first place. ”I was plainly wrong in not understanding some of the concerns held by the Australian people about the price of petrol,” Howard explained at the time.
What distinguishes Kevin Rudd’s reversal on his emissions trading scheme from the efforts of Keating and Howard is the apparent arrogance and cynicism of the act. There was no announcement, no special press conference, no real attempt to explain why statements made with absolute conviction before and since the last election no longer applied – and not one skerrick of finesse.
Instead, having spent months developing his bedside manner at a multitude of hospitals around the nation, the Prime Minister treated those who had taken him seriously on climate change with the kind of contempt he might reserve for people smugglers – those he calls ”the scum of the earth” and ”the lowest form of life”.
The denial movement has been cheering Rudd’s failure, while those of advocating action can only look on with bemusement and a fading sense of confidence that Rudd has the cojones to lead on this issue.
Rudd’s lack of the proverbial “stones” is thrown into further light by a recent report by the Climate Institute of Australia.