Climate change continues to wreak havoc for Rudd
Global warming has struck again, with the heat now on our Prime Minister whose approval ratings have dipped below 50 per cent for the first time in the wake of his decision to delay the ETS.
For those who believe that climate change is a real threat (to our politicians), the figures will provide further vindication. Rudd joins Turnbull, Nelson and poor old Pete Garrett with bloody noses after getting too close to the heat.
For the deniers, this is more a case of a politician hoisting on his own petard, being punished for walking away from an issue which he had described as ‘the great moral challenge of our time.”
We at the Punch prefer to put our trust in science – or at least accurately-weighted political polling – to assist us in passing judgment, and so we turn to this week’s Essential Report for guidance.
Exhibit One: The ETS Stinks - The ETS has become increasingly unpopular. Watching approval for the ETS fall over the past 12 months has been like watching the glaciers melt. Mid-way through last year things were stable with support for an ETS at 41-29, then ‘Don’t Knows’ began raising questions until support totally collapsed to the point that Tony Abbott’s policy of inaction was the most popular position.
Exhibit Two: Labor Voters Go Green – Labor’s primary vote has dropped two per cent in the week since Rudd announced his decision to delay the ETS. All those votes have gone straight to the Greens, who wanted an ETS but blocked it in the Senate in the hope of getting a better one. So a good number of true believers are registering a protest of the realpolitick of the issue.
Exhibit Three: Personal Approval Heads South – Of more concern than the 2PP trends is the fact that Rudd has taken a seven-point hit in personal approval. His approval rating is 46 per cent, the first time he has been under 50 per cent, and down 25 points from 71 per cent support just over 12 months ago.
This is the third big hit over the 12 months – the first occurred around last year’s budget when Labor failed to sell debt as a natural consequence of stimulus; the second hit came when Rudd attempted to run a ‘compassionate tough’ line on refugees. And now the third hit over climate change. If there is a pattern, it seems that approval drops each time Rudd attempts to manage an issue from the centre rather than confront it head-on.
Exhibit Four: Who Do You Trust? Another damning figure for Labor this week is that a majority of voters now rate his government at worse than keeping election promises than previous governments. This is another clear impact of climate change that was a central plank of Rudd’s election platform in 2007. The damage from ditching the ETS has affected Labor’s overall credibility – with 42 per cent rating their promises as less credible than the Howard Government’s non-core promises or the Keating Government’s LAW tax cuts,
Exhibit Five: And the killer .. For all this pain, at least you would expect support for getting rid of the unpopular ETS. But no, the punters cry – we disapprove of the decision to scrap it 41-38.
So here’s my take: Rudd has moved on an unpopular policy but he’s not been rewarded because in doing so, he has walked away from a principled position. Like so much about climate change, the consequences are often unforeseen. You can take a stand and get stabbed in the back. You can ignore the issue and you get punished for that too. And you can listen to the people and find out you didn’t get the right message after all.
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