Is Kevin Rudd a coward?

You bet he is

Possum makes a fair point (once you get through the singing and dancing and sledging) about the timing of the passing of the CPRS legislation after a joint sitting that would follow a double dissolution. He reckons there wouldn’t be enough time after that to put it into place by 1 July 2011 (the start date in the legislation). He may be right.

Possum also reckons it’s “stupid”, “idiotic”, “lazy” etc to call Kevin Rudd a coward for dropping his beloved “greatest moral challenge of our time”.

But a political coward our Kevin most certainly is.

For one thing, he has known about these timing matters ever since Tony Abbott became leader. And it’s not as if the issue was likely to cost him the election - be it normal or DD. Perhaps Rudd’s overarching gutlessness has been in never having the confidence to try to sell … well, anything to the electorate. Some explaining of the ETS over 2008 and 2009 would have helped.

Rudd is even more politically timid than John Howard - and that’s saying something.*

Possum’s argument that a DD would not be in Labor’s interests is based on Antony Green’s calculations which assume an identical vote to the 2007 election and so are probably a bit pessimistic for the government. Even on those numbers, both the Coalition and Labor do more poorly under a DD than a half-Senate, which is not necessarily a bad net result for Labor. It creates the slim chance that Labor plus independents can form an alternative majority to Labor plus Greens, which would give the government flexibility. And of course the new Senate would take place immediately, not mid 2011. (I’m talking about life in Senate general now, not the ETS.)

But still …

God invented cowardice for a reason. It enables people to fight another day. It may not make for great government, but some people obviously reckon dropping the ETS increases the chances of a Labor victory –  and they may be right.

Australians still want something done about climate change, and the opposition’s general unbelief in and unwillingness to do much about it will still cause it problems.

But politically, Rudd’s addiction to short-termism means lack of investment in his future persona. There will be little to enable voters to say “like him or not, you know where he stands” etc etc. That may well be a first for prime minister, but it’s likely to be a problem at future elections, not this one. And in the long run we are all dead (or off to the UN or wherever.)

* Howard was a serial backflipper, and the fact that his fans have to reach waaay back to 1998 (the GST election) to find an example of his alleged bravery says it all.

14 Responses to “Is Kevin Rudd a coward?”

  1. Pat Hills says:

    Peter,

    You sir are a cad for suggesting such a thing. If the PM was any tougher he’d rust.

  2. B.S. Fairman says:

    Fortune favors the brave, not the crazy.

    The moment after the next electioni that the Liberals realise that a Green approved bill will get through they will do a deal like the last one (and keep their word this time).

  3. Amos Keeto says:

    (once you get through the singing and dancing and sledging)

    He’s got it right though, hasn’t he?

    or do you disagree?

    Step up or step out

  4. David Walsh says:

    That Rudd doesn’t want to contest a DD election on this particular ETS isn’t really the point. It’s that he doesn’t seem to want to contest any election on any ETS.

  5. Firemaker says:

    Well said mumble. I couldn’t agree more. I used to be a big Kevin fan but the only thing stopping me from voting against him is the bigger fool on the other hill.

  6. John Anderson says:

    Firemaker reflects the views of many. As noted in today’s press, a re-elected Howard government would have had an ETS in place by now. What irony. Rudd thinks he is on safe ground when tobacco & mining taxes are increased. And he has an opponent who wants to introduce a big new tax on business to fund a parental leave scheme. Well, why not an ETS that offsets huge revenues collected by providing access to a huge compensation package for just about every consumer. The politics of this doesn’t make sense. Other than fear.

    May be next week’s budget will provide an answer & I am not referring to a big new renewable energy program but an interim small tax on carbon by the tonne. Ross Gittins [SMH] nails it again this morning. In saying all that it becomes a choice between a disappointing PM and an alternative who seems more interested in gynaecology than economic policy.

  7. Catalyst says:

    Ah yes,. but would Howard have implemeted an ETS- he broke election promised before, remember?

    Should Kevin Rudd act as Don Quixote and tilt at windmills?
    Politics is the art of the possible- an ETS was possible last year- maybe be possible again, but currently is not possible.

    And why are the opposition who voted it down crying ‘crocodile ‘ tears now?
    Why is Greg Hunt, Joe Hockey et al who were for action on climate change not faciong questions as to their commitment and or cowardice?

    Gee I guess the media is just filled with old liberals…9 i mean conservatives)

  8. Catalyst says:

    Ah yes,. but would Howard have implemeted an ETS- he broke election promised before, remember?

    Should Kevin Rudd act as Don Quixote and tilt at windmills?
    Politics is the art of the possible- an ETS was possible last year- maybe be possible again, but currently is not possible.

    And why are the opposition who voted it down crying ‘crocodile ‘ tears now?
    Why is Greg Hunt, Joe Hockey et al who were for action on climate change not faciong questions as to their commitment and or cowardice?

    Gee I guess the media is just filled with old liberals…( I mean conservatives) apologies to all small l liberals.

  9. MDMConnell says:

    I guess the problem when you propose a “courageous” policy and then squib it is that you’re vulnerable to attack from both sides.

    Rudd needs to be a bit careful that he doesn’t get wedged between Liberals claiming he’ll just re-introduce an even “worse” ETS after the next election, and Greens claiming that he’s all mouth and will never follow through on climate change.

  10. L Lawson says:

    I only hope we can get rid of this government before they do lasting damage to Australia.

    They love to talk about their big ideas and all they do is leave trails of destruction. Yes we came though the GFC better than most other countries but remember that this government did inherit an excellent balance sheet and a strong economy. Now we have a huge deficit!

    Our resources are the greatest assets Australia has.We have a strong mining industry that provides employment and creates wealth Please don’t let them distroy that!

    Health reforms are the big event too. Reforms that grab GST from the states and reorganises the management of hospitals. How in fact does that help patients?

    Immigration is a mess, the insulation project was a disaster and the ETS has been abandoned!

    Why are we allowing Kevin Rudd and his party to ruin our beautiful country?

  11. Graham says:

    I guess what surprises me are the poor tactics that Rudd has shown as PM in playing the politics, which was not so evident when he was Opposition Leader. There are a number of bills that did not make it through the Senate, which should have if they had played a much better hand in dealing with the minors or even the Opposition.

    Are the advisers around him duds?

  12. mumbles opines:

    * Howard was a serial backflipper, and the fact that his fans have to reach waaay back to 1998 (the GST election) to find an example of his alleged bravery says it all.

    Mumbles you are one of the best psephologists about. But your ideological slip shows whenever you can bring yourself to “assessing”* Howard’s record. You continue to short-change his record, perhaps owing to your Left-wing political bias or probably due to your (commendable) professional tendency to deflate the rhetoric of political pundits.

    But in Howard’s case this bias does not square with his historical record. Howard courageously put forward programs of bold policy reform, against vested interests or public opinion (including those on his side of politics), on numerous occasions:

    – 1996: Gun control;
    – 1998: GST;
    – 2000: occupation of E Timor;
    – 2003: invasion of Iraq
    – 2005: Work Choices and
    – 2007: the Intervention;

    I think he was wrong on some big issues (Work Choices, Global Warming). But no one can deny that he took some big political risks on regular occasions.

    That said, most of the time he played it fairly safe, clinging very much to the Centre-Right. But its hard to criticize that conservative program as the country was booming for most of his premiership. Mass private professional success takes alot of the sting out of public political grievances.

    * as in tight-fisted insurance “assessing”

  13. mumbles said:

    But a political coward our Kevin most certainly is.

    [snip]

    Rudd is even more politically timid than John Howard – and that’s saying something.*

    I can’t fault your characterisation of Rudd as a “coward”, or perhaps its more tactful to refer to him as a “c”onserveative. I thought that was obvious almost a year before he won office. Back in JUL 2007 I predicted that Rudd would continue the conservative substance, without the divisive style, of Howard’s governance:

    Voters have been looking for an alternative political leader who would continue Howard’s policy settings whilst curbing Howard’s political machinations. The hour called forth the man in the shape of Howard “mini-me” Kevin Rudd.

    Pretty much everything that Rudd has (not) done confirms that initial prediction. He loves to talk politics in large sweeping phrases but his actual policies are managerial to the nth degree.

    Again, thats not necessarily wrong. AUS householder wealth (housing property and super equity) continues to soar on the strength of Asian immigration and investment. Why change from your predecessor, or bust ones b*lls on some new chore, when people from some other country are still doing all the hard yards for you?

  14. Peter says:

    Jack, your adoration of our former PM knows no bounds.

    Of that list, only the GST and Workchoices were electorally difficult. Iraq ended up unpopular, but when he made the decision to tag along with Dubya it didn’t necessarily look that way.

    And “Occupation of E Timor”? You’ve been reading too many fairytales.

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