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A Perfect Storm for Kevin Rudd?

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9 years 5 months ago - 9 years 5 months ago #1 by sozzled
A Perfect Storm for Kevin Rudd? was created by sozzled
It will be most interesting to see the outcome of happenings at Parliament House in Canberra in the next couple of hours. Australia may have its first female PM. :-o

I think that, for quite sime time, the Kevin '07 "honeymoon" is over for many Australians. Although the man is brilliant strategist and had the skills to sweep his political party to victory at the last election he's failed to connect with the electorate in order to sell his message. And, in spite of the fact that the federal opposition has failed to produce any real details about what it stands for, it's clear that the negative campaign against the Prime Minister has gained enough momentum for the federal opposition to be now dictating the current polical agenda. That's not how governments are supposed to work, is it? Against this backdrop I read a fascinating opinion piece in The Canberra Times a couple of days ago which I would like to reproduce here:
There are lessons to learn from this perfect storm
Kevin Rudd may mean well but that won't save him from a fatal mistake, Ross Buckley writes

The phrase "the perfect storm" was used to describe three weather systems coming together in the North Atlantic to sink a good ship, the Andrea Gail. The story was told in a great book and an ordinary movie of the same name.

The skipper was a seasoned fisherman, Billy Tyne, who pressed on into the storm when he should have turned back. But it seems he had a hold full of fish and a dodgy. freezer. His mistake was understandable.

Kevin Rudd is in the middle of his own perfect storm right now. The first storm system was the decision to postpone the emissions trading scheme. Support for the scheme was falling. The Prime Minister must have thought it prudent to ditch it. But he had so persuaded Australians of his personal commitment to fighting climate change that his decision looked hypocritical or cowardly. Neither interpretation sat well with us.

The second storm system was the resources tax. The Prime Minister must have thought this tax so self-evidently in the nation's interest it would not need selling. For it is a clever tax. It is far better than the current royalties system. Royalties are flat rates. They raise too little revenue in good times and dissuade worthwhile projects in bad times. The resource tax suffers from neither of these drawbacks and reimburses us for the exploitation of resources we own and which one day will run out. While he must have expected opposition from the mining industry, the Prime Minister could not have anticipated the lies and misinformation with which the industry has responded. Rarely has public debate in this country strayed so far from the truth.

The industry says the tax is an instance of sovereign risk. Yet sovereign risk has a specific meaning. It is the risk of a government abusing its sovereignty by expropriating an investment, or imposing exchange controls to prevent the repatriation of profits. It most definitely does not mean a government doing what all governments rightfully do, impose taxes.

The industry says the tax is retrospective. Yet retrospective in this context again has a clear and settled meaning. It describes new taxes that apply to income already earned. The industry argues this tax is retrospective because it applies to future income of projects already under way. But so does any new tax.

The industry says mining alone saved us from the global financial crisis, that we would be in Greece's position today were it not for mining. Yet we were saved from the GFC by good financial regulation, our banks' aversion to high-risk investments, and low sovereign debt. Mining exports and the national stimuluspackage together kept us from a recession, neither saved us from the GFC or a sovereign debt crisis.

The industry claims the tax will be bad for all Australians, through lower sharemarket returns, fewer jobs and less income. Yet mining shares have fallen less, in the weeks since the
tax's announcement, than share prices generally. So the sharemarket disagrees with this assertion. And the proceeds of this tax will do far, far more for most Australians than further profits for the miners ever will.

The industry's response to the tax has been a take-no-prisoners scare campaign that doesn't give a rat's arse for the truth. This is an ugly American phenomenon. During the health-care debate Americans were assured "death committees" operated in Australian hospitals deciding who received medical treatment and who was left to die. This utter disregard for the truth, while sadly common in America, has until now been rare here.

The third storm event was David Marr's recent piece in The Quarterly Essay in which he dissects the character of Kevin Rudd. Few of us will read the essay in full. What matters is the media focus on a tired Prime Minister at the Copenhagen climate conference repeatedly ranting, "Those Chinese f---ers are trying to ratf--- us".

Australians expect some self-control in our leaders, and Marr presents a man out of control. Perhaps more damaging, however, is the sheer ineptness of Rudd's profanity. We Australians like to swear and believe we do it well. "That's bloody annoying" was my eight-year-old's response last week on finding, after two hours, that pieces were missing from the jigsaw puzzle. He was right, it was bloody annoying. He knows how to swear. Our PM doesn't. "Ratf---" is another ugly Americanism. It is unAustralian.

A loss of personal credibility, a campaign of lies by the mining industry, and a pen portrait of an out-of-control Prime Minister who can't even swear properly. Three factors combine and suddenly someone who seemed trustworthy, controlled and happy seems hypocritical, out of control and angry.

Having seen off the GFC, this Government seemed a shoo-in for re-election. The Prime Minister assumed support would be widespread for a tax on companies earning massive profits from exploiting resources that are the common wealth of Australia: an understandable mistake. Yet the Andrea Gail was a strong steel trawler, one of the best in the fleet, captained by a good skipper, who made an understandable mistake. It cost him his life.

Professor Buckley is at the University of NSW's faculty of law.
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Last edit: 9 years 5 months ago by sozzled.

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9 years 5 months ago #2 by sozzled
Replied by sozzled on topic A Perfect Storm for Kevin Rudd?
The storm front has passed and so, too, has the leadership of Australia passed to Julia Gillard. It will be an interesting time ahead in the lead-up to the next election.

If you think I'm wrong then say "I think you're wrong". If you say, "You're wrong", how do you know?

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