23 June 2010

Rudd on His Way Out?

Breaking news in Australia has Prime Minister Kevin Rudd facing a leadership challenge from Julia Gillard (both pictured above). Rudd could be out as soon as tomorrow (this afternoon if you are in my part of the world).

A big part of this story is the disfavor that Rudd generated by first hyping then delaying the Australian emissions trading scheme. Sky News reports:
The change in fortunes for Mr Rudd has happened with alarming speed.

After a lengthy honeymoon with the electorate, the public mood started to turn following a run of problems and backflips, including the botched home insulation scheme and a suspension in processing of Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum seekers.

But it was the ETS that dragged Mr Rudd's popularity down.Without a power base in caucus, once Mr Rudd began to lose public support, his backing within the parliamentary party began to ebb away.
This of course will mean that I have to once again update my paper on Australia's emissions reductions policies. The timing is good (Thanks Labour Party!) as my paper was just sent back from the journal I submitted it to as being not of sufficient interest to consider for publication. The ETS is important enough to bring down a political leader, but not relevant to environmental policy discussions in academia? But I digress . . .

Rudd raised expectations with the ETS and then found himself in a bad situation, as the policy was a bad one but because expectations had been raised, simply postponing it was always going to have political repercussions. I laid out some of this in an op-ed last March at ABC News (Australia).

If she becomes prime minister, it would be quite easy for Gillard to repeat the exact same mistake with the ETS. Let's hope that she is paying attention to those pesky academics with minds of their own.