Just like Medicare, except Australians don’t want it
Given the bitterness of political exchange, Julia Gillard may be excused for crowing, for basking in the warm light of an all-too-rare win.
Even before clearing the final hurdle of a Senate vote next month - where the numbers are assured - yesterday’s House of Representatives victory on the carbon tax bills is being hailed as “historic”.
It is a very deliberate term crafted to dove-tail with the embattled PM’s view that through his frothing opposition to the package, Tony Abbott has over-reached and will find it was he who ended up “on the wrong side of history”.
Time will tell.
In reform terms, Ms Gillard’s achievement is impressive. Driving complex and unpopular legislation through a minority parliament is further testament to her deal-making prowess.
Having banked all of her party’s fortunes on this heroic, probably suicidal path, her wager is that Australians will slowly but surely embrace the carbon tax and its subsequent emissions trading scheme.
In recent days, she has begun arguing a new line designed to reassure nervous Labor MPs as much as anyone else. That involves likening carbon pricing to Medicare, and predicting that once Australians see the scheme in operation, and receive the compensation, it will be Tony Abbott who has the harder task in his blood pledge to repeal it.
But that comes later - probably too much later to save Labor.
Make no mistake, this is as big a political gamble as has been seen in national politics.
Away from Canberra, in the streets, suburbs, factories and offices of Australia, Labor’s “historic” victory is viewed far less favourably.
Indeed, the polls show climate change anxiety has gone off the boil and most voters see the carbon price as little more than electoral betrayal.
Fair or not, this is Tony Abbott’s big achievement.
Julia Gillard is very close to actually delivering a major reform but her success may yet prove Pyrrhic - purchased at the extraordinary cost of government and even the viability of the ALP itself.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…