By the time the cheese platters circle Canberra’s National Press Club tomorrow afternoon, we should know what kind of government it was that we elected late last year. Will the eagerly awaited climate change Green Paper (Saving The Planet Through Tax) be a triumph of politics, spin and vested back scratching? Or will it be a dour work of substantial public policy?

This is a test. So far in the Rudd regime’s first six months, the signs have not been altogether encouraging on the politics v policy front. The Prime Minister has shown a disturbing and thoroughly documented tendency toward the politically palliative, a fixation on short-term spin that doesn’t quite mesh with the measure of the man we thought we had through the long campaign of 2007.

And say what you like about Howard and Costello — masters themselves of the dextrous daily agenda — when it came to their big policy crunch, they stuck to their guns. The GST did not pander to vested interest. Let’s hope the Rudd/Wong Green Paper and its mooted ETS will show just as much mettle.