A government that cannot govern. Every time we listen to, or read about, a Federal Minister explaining what Labor intends to do we need to remind ourselves that this is a government which cannot actually govern? It can say whatever it likes about what should happen but when it comes to anything that requires legislation the final form of that legislation is in someone else’s hands.

One person who well realises that is the Opposition Leader who was reported this morning saying that his team will not be voting for any Emissions Trading Scheme that starts in 2010. Kevin Rudd might think that that is the year to get under way but Brendan Nelson reckons that we should be waiting until 2011 when Australia can see whether China and the US are joining a global pact to reduce their emissions. Not that the good doctor has any unfettered power either. He is as dependent like the Prime Minister on getting support in the Senate from outside his own ranks but at least he does not need to woo green Greens and less green Family First and Anti Pokies all at the same time. This is clearly going to be a nightmare of a term for Labor when it comes to getting done what it wants to get done.

Team Rudd will be forced into a series of compromises so goodness knows what we will eventually end up with when it comes to policies to combat global warming. Uppermost in the minds of the two non-Greens will surely be the fate of the Australian Democrats which was the last political group to support a Government wanting to introduce a form of taxation that the people were suspicious of. I expect that Senators Nick Xenophon and Steve Fielding will take some convincing to vote in favour of dearer petrol and retail power bills.

Costa’s show of petulance. The NSW Labor Treasurer Michael Costa is clearly seeking martyrdom. Rarely in the political history of a political party can there have been a display as petulant as his. Yesterday, for the second time, he refused to attend a fundraising luncheon, organised by the State Branch which pays the bills to get him elected, where he was advertised as a star attraction. Sooner rather than later Mr Costa must be expelled from the Labor Party.

Keep the poor of the world poor. There was a wonderful example in The Age this morning of the difficulties that will confront the world’s leaders in reaching an agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Monash University social scientist Bob Birrell was quoted saying Australia has little hope of meeting its emissions target — a 60% cut by 2050 — unless it halts predicted population growth of about 10 million over the next four decades. The solution, his argument went, was to slash migration because people were coming from Asia, where carbon dioxide emissions are comparatively low, to Australia “because they want to share our standard of living” which is based on high emissions. The idea that the governments of countries poorer than Australia will accept a greenhouse gas solution based on their people remaining poorer than Australians is certainly a novel one.

The strange politics of Queensland. There is something strange about the politics of Queensland when a former successful federal president of the Liberal Party is deemed unsuitable to be president of a Queensland conservative party combining Liberals and Nationals. It is even more peculiar when the proposal that Shane Stone be given the job is objected to not by members of the National Party proposing to join in the merger but by a faction of the Liberal Party. Toss in the fact that the faction is headed by former Senator Santo Santoro who resigned from the Howard Government ministry and the Parliament in March last year for failing to disclose 70 share trading deals contrary to the ministerial code of conduct and the story begins to sound almost fictional.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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