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From the gallery

February 7, 2007

I attended the first sitting of Parliament for the year yesterday. I must say that I continue to be impressed by Kevin Rudd – whilst not being one of his die-hard supporters on every issue, there is no doubt that this man has the ability to tackle Howard front on (as I speculated on before he was elected leader in December last year). Whilst he didn’t directly make Howard slip up on answering a question about the link between CO2 emissions and climate change, Howard, after four other directed questions on climate change from Rudd nevertheless did slip up and was forced to correct himself a few hours later saying that he thought the question was about the link between the drought and climate change. Howard does seem somewhat rattled by Rudd.

Peter Garrett asked Malcolm Turnbull if the Government was going to raise their renewable energy targets. Of course Turnbull didn’t answer the question but instead waffled on… and on… and on about doing “real” things to tackle climate change and how the Government’s position is a “realist” position – yes very realist after denying that global warming even exists for ten years – how real can you get? At one stage, Turnbull even started waffling about water shortage in south-east Queensland (even though the question Garrett asked was about renewable energy targets) seeming to casually link climate change to the issue in defiance of Howard’s assertion that the “jury was still out” on that link. Turnbull then said that the lack of water in Queensland was Kevin Rudd’s fault for opposing the building of a new dam back in 1989 – never mind the fact that the then Liberal opposition opposed the building of the same dam as well. At about three minutes into Turnbull’s answer, I could hear some people in the gallery around me saying “what on earth is he talking about?” There has been some speculation about Turnbull sometime in the future becoming PM – I doubt that. He’s too much of a high-brow know it all to understand the intricate realities and delicacies of the job – he’s no Howard and his first parliamentary performance as a minister did not impress me (or many others in the gallery it seems) at all.

Whilst the overall formula didn’t change, there was definitely a mood in the chamber yesterday and you could tell that the Government was uncomfortable and a little rattled. You could tell that the Government sensed that this election is going to be a tough one. Labor pushed and pushed and the taunts across the chamber from the Labor MPs were loud and confident, not just token as they have been over the last few years. Rudd is as quick-witted and hard working as Howard and this battle is going to be interesting. All the signs are that Rudd is ready for that battle though. Thus far, he has chosen his battles with Howard carefully and hasn’t fallen into any of Howard’s traps – indeed it even looks as though Rudd is adept at setting a few traps of his own. As Karen Middleton wrote in The Canberra Times last week: “Both men have undoubtedly read The Art of War: and one of them didn’t need a translation.”

If these trends continue, well, it seems that a little hope won’t be as misguided as it has been over the last 11 years. I’m cautiously optimistic.

UPDATE: Michelle Grattan’s take on yesterday.

UPDATE II: Don’t miss The 7:30 Report on Thursday night to catch Peter Garrett and Malcolm Turnbull do battle over climate change and the drought.

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4 comments

  1. Thank you Dave.

    I felt I was there…even down to mumbling ‘get to the point’ and ‘answer the question’ at Turnbull 🙂

    Government mood – uncomfortable
    Suki mood – optimistic


  2. Nice one, Dave.

    You and Grattan saw everything Suki & I have been sensing for several weeks now. Ever since Rudd won the Labor leadership, the Prime Miniature has been slowly filling his drawers.

    I hope he’s wearing one of those nappies that specify ‘for 18-20kg’ on the package… ‘cos that’s about the amount of poo Lil Johnny has been hauling around since this turned into a horse-race.


  3. Finally Labor has some direction and drive. It’s going to be an exciting year. Some are speculating that the election could either be as early as August (does Howard really want to be seen with George W. at the APEC summit in September just a month or two before the election?) or perhaps as late as early next year – he’ll certainly try to use the time now that he actually has an opponent that is a serious threat.


  4. […] It’s interesting that Howard has now decided that climate change exists when up until early this year he was stating that the link between human activity and climate change had not been …. Bang, six months later, Howard is talking about “aspirational targets” and the like, […]



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