Category Archives: Kevin Rudd

Labor’s failure on climate, Rudd moves on to bigger and better things

Stephen Minas has written an interesting article in the New Statesman on Labor’s fumbling of the climate change issue:

Setbacks for advocates of strong action on climate change have come in quick succession in the months since Copenhagen. If the demise of the US climate bill was the most important, the turnaround in Australia — which boasts some of the highest per-capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the world — may be the most striking.

Australian Labor fought and won the 2007 election pledging an emissions trading scheme (ETS) by 2010. It will face the people later this month promising to defer a final decision on whether to introduce an ETS to 2012.

This dwindling of political will has raised fundamental questions about the government. Climate change was the totemic issue for the “new leadership” offered by Kevin Rudd in 2007. In addition to his off-the-cuff welcome to Hu Jintao in excellent Mandarin, Rudd’s climate activism was crucial to his self-presentation as a modern, forward-thinking leader. Back then, Rudd called climate change “the greatest moral, economic and environmental challenge of our generation”. He condemned the inaction and climate scepticism of his predecessor, the conservative John Howard.

Labor’s advertising campaign even depicted Howard asleep in his bed, famously bushy eyebrows visible above the duvet, with a framed photo with George W Bush on the bedside table. While an alarm clock blared away in vain, the voice-over pronounced Howard “asleep on climate change”.

But the “greatest moral challenge” does not feature in Labor’s ad campaign this time around.

However Kevin Rudd is moving on to bigger and better things:

FORMER prime minister Kevin Rudd will join a United Nations panel on global sustainability, the UN confirmed today.

The former prime minister has been appointed to a new 21-member panel on global sustainability a decision announced by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon in New York overnight.

Mr Rudd will not be paid for his work with the panel, which will be co-chaired by Finland’s President Tarja Halonen and South African President Jacob Zuma.  Mr Ban has said he is asking the panel to “think big”.

Its first meeting will be held in about one month’s time, which is likely to be only meeting this year, while there should be another two in 2011.

Having failed Down Under, one wonders what success Rudd will enjoy at the global level.

Let’s hope our Kevin has learnt some valuable lessons.

Stop the world, Australia wants to get off: how Rudd’s ETS backflip ignores global trends

Team Kevin07 executes a 4.5 double-twist, over-the-arse, policy backflip

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.

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The failure of Rudd’s ETS – strangely – does not vindicate the deniers

Following the Rudd government’s announcement that the ETS will be delayed until “at least 2013”, Murdoch papers such as the Herald Sun and The Australian have swiftly denounced the “fat cats” in government.

Other deniers and think tanks such as the Institute of Public Affairs have joined in what can only be described as an orgy of self-congratulation calling out Rudd for his failure.

Yesterday’s HUN attacked the Federal Government’s Department for Climate Change & Energy Efficiency for having “nothing to do” now that the ETS has been delayed. It also questioned both the staff numbers and salaries of staff attached to the office.

This is classic “old school” media trope: government “fat cats” living off the back of the tax payer. It plays right into the stereotype of public servants as corrupt, out of touch and “bludgers”.

They continued to editorialize about Rudd’s failure:

The latest policy to be abandoned is the Emissions Trading Scheme, which was to confront what we were told was “the greatest moral challenge of our time”.

The Prime Minister wanted to lead the world, but the world didn’t listen at the failed global warming conference in Copenhagen. His call to arms was ignored.

Now, to use the overblown terminology of the Prime Minister, he has laid down his shield and surrendered by saying the ETS is off the agenda until 2013.

Not that that’s such a bad thing. It was always better to wait to see whether the world would follow.

A nice example of schadenfreude, as the Editors glee that the ETS – and by extension our response to climate change – is seen to fail is barely masked.

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While it burns: Australian Emissions Trading Scheme “delayed” until 2013

While the urbs of Rome burn, the debate rages.

Yesterday the Rudd government announced the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) would be put on hold until “at least 2013”. ABC reports:

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he has been forced to put his emissions trading scheme (ETS) on ice because of the Coalition’s opposition and the slow pace of international climate change action.

Mr Rudd has confirmed the ETS has been shelved until at least 2013 so the Government can consider what the rest of the world will do beyond the expiration of the Kyoto protocol.

He says the Government remains committed to implementing the scheme but the Opposition’s refusal to back it and the lack of international progress in the wake of the Copenhagen talks meant it had to be delayed.

Kevin Rudd, our PM blames others for this failure:

“The Liberal Party have executed a complete backflip in their historical position in support of an ETS,” he said.

“The rest of the world is being slower to act on appropriate action on climate change.

“It’s very plain that the correct course of action is to extend the implementation date.

“What we need to make a judgment of is what happens post-2012 and what the rest of the world is doing, because the rest of the world and what they do is pretty important in terms of Australia’s future actions as well.

The tragedy of the commons continues to play itself out.

Of course, it was all just a scheme to introduce a “great big tax on everything”. Says leader of the Liberals, Tony Abbot:

“It seems the Government has dropped its policy to deal with climate change, namely an ETS, because it is frightened the public think that this really is just a great big new tax on everything,” he said.

“I’m quite happy for the next election to be a referendum on Mr Rudd’s great big new tax on everything, and he’s frightened of that.”

Tony stays on message about the “great big tax on everything”.

This from a man who served in a government that actually introduced a “great big tax on everything”, the Goods and Services Tax (GST – or general consumption tax on all goods and services).

Obviously the deniers crow. Andrew Bolt’s take:

Has any Prime Minister had to reverse, delay or repair so many of his own disastrous policies in just three weeks?

While The Australian’s Denis Shanahan notes (with some truth):

Today’s declaration has hollowed out Rudd’s climate change conviction and adopted the Coalition’s “wait-and-see” approach which meets none of the demands Rudd made before Copenhagen last year.

We are going to lose another four or five years.

One can understand realpolitik, but the science will not wait for us to play catch up.

My prediction: by 2010 geoengineering will become mainstream, as political parties on both sides start to promote carbon capture technology, “planet hacking” and other wild schemes in order to ally the public’s growing concerns.

We’ve just witnessed record temperatures these past three months. The electorate is presently disconnected from the issue. However over the coming years, as the effects of climate change become more apparent, the public will begin to look for “action”.

However, we will have to wait as our politics and society catches up.

What can you do today?

Start small. If you are an Australian resident, write to you local member for Parliament, expressing your concern. Believe it not, this makes a difference.

A sufficient number of emails and letters will be noted.

[Hat tip Sou for picking this up]

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