‘the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time’

I don’t make this stuff up! The quote that is the title of this post is a phrase Kevin Rudd  used, so far as I can make out, both before he became Prime Minister in 2007 and after taking office — but not much, if at all, after he lost office in 2010. It is, of course, a reference to ‘climate change’. For newcomers to this website, I put inverted commas around the term because it has been redefined by the UN’s various organs interested in climate to mean ‘change in the climate that is due to human activity’, and apparently all change in climate now is thus caused. Indeed, we now also refer to ‘extreme weather’ or ‘weird weather’, again induced by human activity, or so it is held by the believers. The fact that we still cannot disentangle ‘human contributions’ from ‘natural variability’ is of little consequence. Naming is the real power.

But back to Kevin Rudd. Writing about him last week I said that he lacked both coherence and consistency, and that he tended to overdo whatever it was in talk, and to underdo it in action. Here he does it again: yesterday provided another beautiful (or dreadful) example. He said, straight to camera yesterday, that he was scrapping the carbon tax, and went on to delineate how much better off people would be as a result.

It was yet another charade. First, he isn’t doing anything but talking. This decision  depends on Labor’s winning the election, and then having the numbers in both houses to pass the necessary legislation. Second, he is terminating some other ‘climate change’ measures, once seen as the core of the Governments response to saving the planet, as well as the carbon tax.

Third, he is simply renaming  the state of affairs: the carbon tax is to be transmuted into an ’emissions trading scheme’, and the present level of taxation is unaltered. Fourth, he seems unable to remember that he is associated with the grandiloquent phrase at the head of the essay, not just in Australia, but elsewhere in the world, and that people actually have memories — I’m not the only one.

What is the point of this wordplay? He plainly believes that the electorate is opposed to a carbon tax, but that it won’t be opposed to an emissions trading scheme. I don’t think he can sell this one to many voters. The believers will be affronted, the Greens hostile, and the sceptics unmoved.

It’s a putatively costly exercise, too, since the shift means a reduction of $3.8 billion in government revenue. No matter, we’ll make some cuts here, and do some wriggling there. We’ll shaft 800 or so senior bureaucrats in Canberra — they won’t be missed, and that will save $250 million. I saw my local MP bravely pointing out that the numbers of senior bureaucrats had gone up a colossal amount since 2007, so some pruning was plainly necessary. How did their numbers go up so sharply, one wondered. Who was in charge then?

And I keep asking — what has happened to the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time? Has it gone away? Is there no challenge? What has occurred in the data or the arguments to allow the Prime Minister to talk about scrapping the carbon tax and some other ‘climate change’ measures without, so far as I can determine, saying anything of any consequence about the threat to us all?

Everything he and Treasurer Chris Bowen said was  about the relief that working families would obtain through these  far-sighted measures. No one seemed to ask either of them why, if global warming was no longer a challenge, did they not scrap the whole anti-warming edifice — Climate Change Commission, Greenhouse Office and all.

I’m now expecting the announcement of an early election, and to hell with the local government referendum. If there is any strategy in what Mr Rudd is doing, it is to clear the decks of difficult issues, and then go the polls while he remains popular. But as I said the other day, he hasn’t dealt with the difficult issues at all. What he has done is to rename them. So ‘Gonski’ is now ‘Better Schools’, the carbon tax is now an emissions trading scheme, the boats are now a multi-lateral diplomatic solution, whatever that is.

Just how dopey does he think the Australian electorate is? Given what has happened in the last six years, why does anyone think that with Kevin ’07 back in charge, we will enter into a land of milk and honey? I know the polls are suggesting that Labor is in with a chance, but I have my doubts about that meaning. It is hard to decide how much of his standing is simply a post-Julia rebound, and how much it is a pointer to a real vote at a real election.

In my view Labor needs some years in Opposition to engage in the business of rebuilding. And if that happens then, again in my view, Kevin Rudd is not at all the person to lead the rebuilding process. He is part of the problem, not the solution.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • whyisitso says:

    “Just how dopey does he think the Australian electorate is?”

    It doesn’t require even a large proportion of the electorate to be dopey. The latest polls indicate that just 7% have gone back to the ALP on a 2PP basis. You only have to fool some of the people some of the time. Krudd could well make that his new slogan.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Whisitso, you are right on the knocker there. I should have said that myself!

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