On this day in 2010 it all came unstuck for Kevin Rudd. He had bludgeoned John Howard to a pulp on various issues (anyone remember the Australian Wheat Board?) and one of the biggies was ‘the great moral challenge’ of climate change. He then had spent two years promulgating a fantastically complicated and horribly named ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’ which nobody liked or understood. After Tony Abbott defeated Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party on 1st December 2009, consensus on carbon pricing died. After the Copenhagen debacle, Rudd was urged to fight a double dissolution election. He flubbed it and threw himself instead into campaigning on the Australian health care system. And on April 27th 2010, following a front page scoop by the estimable Lenore Taylor about how the CPRS was being kicked into the long grass until after the 2013 election. it all came unstuck at a hospital.
K Rudd (Prime Minister), Transcript of doorstop interview: Nepean Hospital, Penrith: health and hospital reform; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; Home Insulation Program, media release, 27 April 2010.
Two good quotes, the first from Paul Kelly’s ‘Triumph and Demise’
Rudd’s problem, however, was not just the decision but the manner of its release. The story was broken by Lenore Taylor in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 April when she reported that the ETS had been shelved ‘for at least three years’. The leak to Taylor was devastating. Rudd was taken by surprise and left without an explanation. ‘It was a very damaging leak and hard to retrieve, ‘ Wong said. ‘It derailed our government’, Martin Ferguson said.
And the second from a later piece by Taylor herself.
It was the decision that seemed to snap voters’ faith in Kevin Rudd. Perhaps a final straw. Straight after the government announced it was deferring an emissions trading scheme until 2013, graphs of the Prime Minister’s satisfaction rating looked like a rock falling off a cliff. Labor’s primary vote tumbled after it. The kitchen cabinet was scheduled to meet on April 27 to decide exactly how to explain the delay, and the conditions under which the government would pledge that the ETS policy would be revived.
News of the decision had also filtered through to a few members of the broader cabinet, who had determined to try to wind it back when cabinet met to “ratify” the budget on April 29. But on the morning of April 27, the Herald disclosed the decision to remove the scheme from the budget in a front page article entitled “ETS off the agenda until late next term”. It was the first many ministers and senior public servants had heard of it.
Knowing the back story helps explain why the government’s response on that day was so confused.
Taylor, L. 2010. Decision that shattered faith in PM. Sydney Morning Herald, 5 June, p.2
Also on this day
1999 The high-level Greenhouse Energy Group will today receive the final report of the task force set up by the Federal Government to devise ways to meet its target of a 2 per cent increase in the use of renewable energy over the next decade.
Hordern, N. 1999. Greenhouse targets study ready. Australian Financial Review, 27 April, p. 11.
2001 Washington has mounted a diplomatic campaign to deflect criticism of its repudiation of the Kyoto Protocol, instead seeking support for its goal of broadening the UN climate change treaty to include developing countries.
And Canberra is Washington’s prize recruit in this campaign.
Asked in Wednesday’s Washington Post which countries backed him on greenhouse, President George Bush said “Australia [and Canada] said they understand why the US took this position”.
Hordern, N. 2001. Bush wary of `kiss of death’ for backers in protocol pact. Australian Financial Review, 27 April, p.30.
2001 – “However, the Canadian government has criticised the US for pulling out of the Kyoto process. Only Australia has provided uncritical support and is therefore Washington’s “prize recruit” in its campaign to kill the Kyoto Protocol, according to a report in the April 27 Australian Financial Review.” [I think this is from a Green Left Weekly article]