Climate Change minister Greg Combet has equated the Coalition’s scare campaign with Labor’s own anti-GST frenzy ahead of the 1998 poll that very nearly toppled John Howard at his first re-election attempt..
He told climate doom-boosters at Fairfax:
“Labor was running a scare campaign against the GST and it petered out because it couldn’t be sustained,” Mr Combet told The Age. “It was an economic reform that people became accustomed to. In Australian politics, in our democracy, [a scare campaign] is not a new phenomenon and you have to argue it out.”
It’s a candid admission although Abbott’s leadership has made Labor’s carbon price shift from being vaguely popular (or accepted) into a genuine worry for most voters. Combet’s argument is that given the passage of time, they might be able to turn it around.
Of their former Leaders, Labor insiders love Paul Keating the most. In fact, even Liberal hacks seem to love him (now). Maybe it’s the suits. He won in 1993 when Labor had been through a recession much worse than the Australian end of the GFC. But winning in 2013 would be a tall order even for Paul.
It’s not just the measure itself – a local contribution to an apparently global problem of climate change that the biggest emitters won’t match – but the circumstances of its adoption that have voters in a very punishing mood despite Australia’s exceptional economic situation: kissing up to the increasingly extremist, anti-Labor and irresponsible Greens party, breaking a seemingly very specific commitment, hitting manufacturing when the very high AUD is already hurting them even more than a carbon price could.