Time to do it not talk about it. In his role as acting Prime Minister this morning, Wayne Swan was talking the talk about the need for Labor to sell the reasons why Australia has to do something to combat global warming.

“We have got to go out there and argue the case for fundamental reform, for a cleaner energy future,” he said.

“We have to work with the community. We have got to work through the multi-party committee. We are doing that.”

Well if they are doing it, according to Essential Research and Newspoll, they are not doing it very well. Which tallies with my own assessment as I wrote last week:

Labor is in for a real public opinion hiding if the global warming debate continues to be about nothing more than who is going to pay how much more for what. It quickly needs to turn the discussion into why Australia needs to take action to curb carbon dioxide emissions – and the consequences if we do not – rather than get stuck down on arguing about the tax that is to be the means of curbing them.

And the guiltiest Minister for confining the debate to questions about tax is the Acting Prime Minister himself. Wayne Swan as Treasurer now has the appalling record of mismanaging two tax debates — the mining tax and the this one on carbon pricing.

The first change in leadership that Labor should make is not to get rid of Julia Gillard (although I am sure we will start hearing a lot about that possibility) but of Wayne Swan as Treasurer.

Encouraging Kevin. One lesson we can take from this week’s opinion polls — we will read more of those stories about Kevin Rudd having not abandoned his ambitions to again be leader of the parliamentary Labor Party. The man would not be human if we was not looking at the Prime Ministerial popularity ratings and t least thinking, if not actually saying, “I told you so.”

Learning the truth. The Independent MP Rob Oakeshott might want to sell off Medibank Private but the government would be very silly to do so. Medibank Private performs one very useful purpose. It keeps the private health insurance industry honest and provides a way of checking the accuracy of claims for increases in premiums. The Finance Minister, Penny Wong, who said yesterday the ”government remains firmly committed to keeping Medibank Private in public hands” should stick to her guns.

At last — a sensible columnist in The Oz with Liberal connection. A lengthy spell as press adviser to Peter Costello as Treasurer and a shorter time with John Howard as Prime Minister have provided Nikki Savva with an insight into how government works that most journalists will never have.

I put her column in The Australian in my must read category. This morning’s offering, “This is no way to sell a carbon tax” should be a basic text for Labor spinners to understand.

Quote for the day – Glen Beck of Fox News reacting to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claim that that Al Jazeera is gaining more prominence in the U.S. because it offers “real news” — something she said American media were falling far short of doing.

“You have the Secretary of State of the United States of America saying you cannot get real news here in America. You can only get it from Al Jazeera and everybody knows it. This is insanity.”

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.