Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 21:54 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 21:54 | SYDNEY

Lowy speech: Rudd attacks


Sam Roggeveen


6 November 2009 15:29

A few thoughts on Prime Minister Rudd's climate change speech, which he has just delivered here at the Lowy Institute. My colleagues and I will probably have some more considered views next week, but here's how it struck me at first blush:

  1. It was highly partisan: this was a full-throated attack on 'climate sceptics' who are 'holding the world to ransom', 'destroying momentum' and 'playing with our childrens' future'. He returned to the children theme a number of times, saying the sceptics are 'prepared to destroy our children's future'.
  2. The implication was that these descriptions applied to anyone who opposed the Government's climate change agenda — the PM seemed to admit of no possibility that anyone of good will could be opposed to that agenda.
  3. There was only a token attempt near the end of the speech to build bridges with the Opposition in order to get climate change legislation passed. For the rest, Rudd was in full attack mode.
  4. That attack was not confined to the Australian Opposition but included senior US Republicans like Michael Steele and John Boehner. Perhaps John Howard lowered the bar on this sort of thing when he said that a vote for Obama was a vote for Osama bin Laden, but he was slammed for doing it.
  5. It contained no new policy, as far as I could tell, though in the Q&A Rudd did reveal he's travelling to India next week, which I understand has not been previously announced.
  6. After fiercely attacking 'conservatives' throughout the speech, there was a neat segue near the end when he said these conservatives are actually the radicals, prepared to gamble our future on the basis of a hunch about climate change. As in so many other policy areas, Rudd was positioning himself as a voice of moderation.