Dr Nelson has challenged Mr Rudd to take firm action on climate change at the G8 meeting.

“Now he’s actually going to be able to eyeball these people,” he told reporters. “And he ought to be a human blowtorch and put direct pressure on them to actually commit to a global response to climate change.”

Sustaining a credible policy position is one thing — one that is proving difficult for Nelson on climate; a descent into utter irrelevance beckons –but it seems the leader of the opposition is also incapable of sustaining a metaphor to the end of a sentence. A blowtorch, Dr, does not apply pressure. That said, there is a challenge for the Prime Minister in the opposition’s resort to hip-pocket populism in the face of encroaching climatic calamity. (Unless of course the rubberised Mr Fantastic and friends can save us, in which case Ross Garnaut can halt his town hall tour right now.)

The risk for Rudd is that once again he will be rope-a-doped into following Nelson into a micro tit-for-tat discussion of fuel prices, pensions and the like. It’s happened before in the forgettable aftermath of this year’s Federal Budget, when Liberal and Labor traded fuel discounts in a ludicrous display that hogged several 24-hour news cycles, but did nothing to illuminate the bigger picture. And it’s that picture that Kevin Rudd was elected to address. That’s his strength, and like a bucket of water to the Human Torch, he loses his political presence and appeal when he sinks to the sort of crass pettiness that seems to be Nelson’s forte.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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