With Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard now in serious struggle for the leadership of her own Labor Party, it seems that the one policy that saw her predecessor Kevin Rudd eventually fall in a party room coup might be the same thing that also brings her down as well…..TonyfromOz.
Gerard Henderson says Labor’s leadership agony is indeed caused by a policy dispute – but the trouble for Labor is that it’s not a dispute between Gillard and Rudd:
Labor’s core problems stem not from personal rivalry but from policy. The handling of the proposed carbon trading scheme de-authorised Rudd and the introduction of the carbon tax led to Gillard’s present discontents. Only Tony Abbott and the Conservative Coalition have done well, so far at least, out of Labor’s commitment to act on climate change.
The Labor Party was in a dominant position until December 1, 2009, when Abbott replaced the former leader, Malcolm Turnbull as Liberal Party (Conservative) leader in the week of the by-elections of Higgins in Melbourne and Bradfield in Sydney. On the morning of the polls, Professor Judith Brett predicted that the political ascension of Abbott would see “the Liberals risk becoming a downmarket protest party of angry old men and the outer suburbs”. Professor Brian Costar predicted that the Liberals would be forced to preferences in Higgins.
In fact, Kelly O’Dwyer increased the Liberal vote in Higgins, as did Paul Fletcher in Bradfield. The most important lesson of the by-elections was that the Liberals did best in the lower socio-economic areas of both electorates. This provided an early warning that the reaction to Labor’s emissions trading scheme was likely to be greater in the outer suburbs and regional centres, where electors were less well off and employment less secure….
The evidence suggests that first Rudd’s and then Gillard’s leadership was blighted by their climate change agenda… Ostensibly, Labor’s present leadership dispute is not over policy, since Gillard and Rudd have similar, if not identical, positions on such issues as climate change, asylum seekers, the need to put the budget in surplus and so on. Yet policy is at the very heart of Labor’s crisis – since it was initially caused by Abbott’s opposition to Labor’s climate change agenda…
It may be the electorate’s apparent opposition to a carbon tax will dissipate when the Gillard government’s scheme is introduced on July 1. But the evidence so far suggests that action on climate change is primarily responsible for Labor’s parlous position. Only the deluded believe otherwise.
Which suggests that a change to Rudd makes no sense unless Rudd changes the carbon tax policy, too.
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.