The Great Moral Backflip Of Our Time
The decision to delay the introduction of its emissions trading scheme until 2013 is the Government's most serious betrayal of voters yet, writes Ben Eltham
Another day, another broken promise.
Last week it was childcare centres and the final death of the home insulation stimulus. Both announcements were wheeled out apologetically by junior ministers. Both times, the Government made little effort to defend its decision (perhaps wisely, in the case of the home insulation debacle).
This week’s broken promise is much, much bigger. The decision to delay the introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme until at least 2013 means Labor no longer has a credible policy on climate change — "the great moral challenge of our generation", according to the Prime Minister.
Those words have already come back to haunt him. And so they should.
Climate change was not some minor election promise thrown out in the heat of the campaign. It was a centrepiece of Labor’s 2007 election platform. It was Kevin Rudd as opposition leader who commissioned Ross Garnaut to begin work on fashioning Labor’s climate change policy.
Strong action on climate was a key plank in Labor’s campaign material and its election ads. Remember the TV commercial depicting a sleeping John Howard? "Now he’s finally said Australia needs an emissions scheme, but he won’t set targets until after the election," the ad proclaimed. Now that he’s in government, neither will Kevin Rudd.
This backflip is staggering, even for those of us who have come to expect policy timidity from the Rudd Government.