Both John Howard and Kevin Rudd were this morning fidgeting under the pressure applied to sensitive parts of their policy anatomy by supposed allies.

In Howard’s case, it’s the Business Council of Australia calling for a carbon emissions trading scheme. Last week, with Sir Nicholas Stern in Australia, Howard again faced questions about the cost of climate change to business, and he again refused to set any long-term targets for carbon emissions in Australia.

“I am not going to join the Labor Party in committing to targets which will do disproportionate damage to the Australian economy,” he said.

Yet, in a submission to the PM’s task group on the issue, the BCA has broken step with Howard, proposing both intermediate and long-term emission targets that would form the basis of an emissions trading scheme. Labor unwrapped this early gift from the Easter Bunny and gleefully showed it off.

“Just yesterday Malcolm Turnbull declared that anyone supporting national emission reduction targets was a climate change fanatic intent on vandalising the Australian economy,” shadow treasurer Wayne Swan said, suggesting there are rats in the ranks of Howard’s climate change stance.

But while Swan is attacking Howard on carbon emissions, his own colleagues are ducking friendly fire from the unions, who are increasing pressure on Rudd to flesh out his IR policy ahead of the ALP’s national conference. The Age reports:
“Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union national secretary John Sutton said the current platform was ‘utterly inappropriate’. He said: “We’d all like to see more meat on the bone at conference’.”

Rudd is in no rush to give any such “meat”, dismissing the call with a blunt rhetorical swipe on ABC radio yesterday: “People from the unions can say what they like, (but) I’ll determine the timing of that.” But outside the issue of Rudd’s IR stance, the unions have hauled into view Labor’s perceived lack of policy detail. Meanwhile, the unions, with a plummeting membership, find themselves under pressure.

With friends like these …