Two years ago, the Prime Minister correctly observed that there was no point being in power unless power was used to achieve change.
There are some benefits to Rudd’s decision to shelve his emissions trading scheme. For one thing, it’s spectacularly poorly designed — with any luck he’ll go back to the drawing board and develop a scheme that will actually drive, not delay, the transition to a low-carbon economy that Australia must undertake.
Moreover, the Senate has set itself dead against it — the posturing of Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt is laughable and, one suspects, driven by annoyance that Rudd has deflated their scare campaign rather than by any actual concern about climate change.
Even so, this appears to be a Prime Minister more interested in finding reasons not to embark on major reform than ways to overcome them.
This Government will always be credited with its bold, innovative handling of the impact of the global financial crisis. But it was the hard reform work of previous governments, as much as the urgent stimulatory policies of this one, that meant Australia came through the crisis relatively unscathed.
There’s more hard reform to be done. The sort that makes enemies, the sort that runs aground in the Senate, the sort that might cost a government seats — and the sort that will help us survive the next economic crisis. It’s needed in banking. It’s needed in housing. In the way we plan and fund our infrastructure. In matching our workforce skills with employers’ needs.
The Government has made starts in all these areas, but the sort of courage and risk-taking that drove the Government’s response to the GFC back in 2008 is needed, and needed on a regular basis.
Where will it come from? Not, seemingly, from Mr Rudd.