Carbon caper heats up
Labor moves to neutralise the Coalition's carbon pricing attack with a raft of changes, but Tony Abbott says it's just more con.PT0M0S 620 349
Suddenly, almost all of Kevin Rudd's election ducks are lining up in a row, increasing the temptation to grant Tony Abbott his wish and call an August election.
One by one, the reinstalled Prime Minister is neutralising the issues that delivered Abbott political ascendancy and made the Liberal leader an unbackable favourite.
The ''termination'' of the carbon tax undermines what loomed as Abbott's most potent line of attack in the campaign - that this was a ''referendum on the carbon tax''.
Kevin Rudd has created the impression he is more serious about a regional response than his predecessor. Photo: Glenn Hunt
It follows the departure of Julia Gillard, the promise of party reform, a reframing of the asylum seeker debate and Abbott declining an invitation to debate debt and deficit at the National Press Club.
It is the same issue-by-issue strategy that Gillard deployed after she justified toppling Rudd in 2010 on the grounds that the government had lost its way - but it is being executed with more speed and skill.
Each of the changes invites scrutiny - none more so than the shift to an emissions trading scheme a year ahead of schedule - but the overall direction is politically savvy and in line with voter expectations.
The justification that the move would relieve cost-of-living pressures undermines Labor's past assertions that families were largely compensated for the impact of the price on carbon - but Rudd is seeking to differentiate himself from the Gillard years.
Rather than leading the world in tackling the ''greatest moral challenge'' of climate change, Australia is now simply ''doing its bit, playing its part''. The question is whether it can be implemented after the election. This is uncertain.
But Rudd can now claim continuity with his original intention to introduce an emission trading scheme and exudes confidence that his approach is superior to Abbott's ''direct action'' manifesto, especially after another hint of climate change scepticism from the Opposition Leader.
Moreover, the transformation of the opinion polls should give Victoria, the Northern Territory and Queensland more incentive to sign up to Labor's school funding, which would give Rudd more confidence in setting the election date.
Boats are still a problem for Labor, but Rudd has created the impression he is more serious about a regional response than his predecessor. Questions remain on Abbott's plan to turn back the boats.
The initial impression was that Rudd intended going after Gillard's nominated date of September 14, but a poll on August 24 or 31 is now a distinct possibility.