Not surprisingly, the OO’s theme du jour is that energy policy will be the bane of the Rudd Government’s brief existence. Of course, the OO also stakes out its own position, which is that the future must be radioactive. We were all just too stupid to listen to John Howard.
The Editor-at-Large exemplifies the Oz’s current
horoscope prophecy forecast for Kevin Rudd:
AUSTRALIA’S energy policy debate is about to erupt. The emissions trading system pledged by Kevin Rudd looms as a policy nightmare that means higher energy and transport prices.
And now an old demon has re-emerged, with demands Australia should go nuclear.
It is as though Australia is sleepwalking into the biggest restructuring of its economy for a generation, with a popular culture that thinks climate change solutions are about light bulbs and carbon-free concerts.
The community is utterly unprepared for the harsh application of climate change mitigation – if the Rudd Government has the will to impose it. The question is whether a political constituency can be mobilised for a rigorous emissions trading system that will make Australia, outside Europe, one of the few nations to enter such carbon pricing arrangements.
Yes, the other hallmark of our elite punditocracy – the unshakeable belief that the Australian populace is stupid. They know exactly what, and how little, we think.
The only OO opinionata to bother noting that another leader in our Parliament may be facing a similar quandary, not to mention the real possibility of being toppled from his job in the near future, was Lenore Taylor:
Behind the scenes, there are clear divisions within the Coalition about how to balance short-term realpolitik with long-term responsibility in the position it takes on emissions trading.
But if Nelson gives in to those advocating that he abandons the bipartisanship that existed around the fundamentals of this debate at the time of the last election, it will make sensible policy formulation even harder. Not to mention endangering the Coalition’s hard-won reputation for economic credibility.
Despite the typical OO slant towards spelling doom for Labor, they actually have hit the fundamental point on the head (for once). Emissions trading and the other elements of energy policy should be the most important issue that determines the success and/or failure of both major parties over this Parliamentary term. The challenge for both the Government and the Opposition is to formulate a coherent and effective policy. The rising voice of the Greens in the Senate will ensure that there is legitimate criticism and analysis of their positions.
But the temptation that both major parties need to resist is to believe that the voters are dimwits who don’t understand the stakes and the costs, whose votes can be bought through cheap stunts that relieve our short-term pain without addressing the challenges of the future. They need to recognise that we are more sophisticated than Paul Kelly gives us credit for.
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