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Nov 9, 2009

Can Rudd save his ETS, or will it destroy him?

Rudd is a control freak. His government is run along command and control lines (read Cameron Stewart's interesting piece in last Saturday's Australian magazine). His media strateg

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Rudd is a control freak.

His government is run along command and control lines (read Cameron Stewart’s interesting piece in last Saturday’s Australian magazine).

His media strategy is a campaign strategy.

Win the day, stay in front.  Make your opponent the issue. Control the message. Make no mistakes.

This is the goldfish in a bowl approach. Every day is new day, every week is anew week.

It works for politics, it’s hopeless for government.

Government is about implementation, not just rhetoric and across-the-despatch box abuse.

The ETS (emissions trading scheme) is the focal point of Rudd’s first term as prime minister.

It’s the self-designated ‘big test’ for the Rudd Government.

It’s a sleeper, potentially much bigger than the current fuss over asylum seekers.

It is, according to government rhetoric, the biggest single economic reform ever.

Bigger than the GST.

Very few people know how it will work and if it will achieve anything.

It sounds like something straight out of the Enron playbook.

A new round of financial trickery much like the stuff that just brought the world economy close to the precipice.

Environmentalists think it is a cop out. Too many compromises with too many big polluters.

The right, Alan Jones and the rest, are screaming about ‘world government’ and ‘loss of sovereignty’.

Increasing numbers of voters are buying the Opposition line that it is just a tax and part of Rudd’s global ambitions.

Cynics are asking if Macquarie Bank (and all the other CBD law and advisory firm spivs)  think it’s a great idea why shouldn’t we be suspicious.

In the face of all this Rudd has left a vacuum.

A vacuum he tried to fill last week with 14 pointless media interviews and a bizarre rant at the Lowy Institute.

The rant has only served to convince his opponents that they are getting under his skin, and that he is according to Jones: ‘rattled’.

What is needed is a real education program, some hard facts that might help win the debate and reassure the voters.

The Rudd Government seems strangely unwilling to do the hard work of a retail communications campaign.

Two years down the track and its media and broader political strategies seem stuck in the realms of the 33 day campaign when only the the headline matters.

Time is slipping away, if Rudd et al don’t win the implementation debate this whole thing is going to blow.

And what happens if Rudd gets his ETS through the Senate and the Copenhagen conference fails to make any progress?

Doesn’t bear thinking about. But I hope Rudd’s minders have a plan B.

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