Spotting the difference between Rudd and Howard is proving something of an eyestrain. A befuddled reporter who'd given up trying was treated to the hyperbole of long term impacts and proper science from a man who clearly doesn't mind hacking down the odd old growth forest here and there to clear his path to The Lodge.
Rudd's latest announcement might be good politics, but it's poor public policy delivered at the expense of our future generations.
Rudd's stance on Tasmanian forests suggests he doesn't have the tough leadership credentials Australia needs to steer this country toward a sustainable future. Is this a leader who can pursuade the electorate that reducing carbon emissions is going cost mortgage-paying individuals? Who can pursuade Australia's carbon lobby that some of our oldest and most profitable industries are going to have to make way for cleaner energy alternatives? It's not looking likely.
As the Tasmanian Greens have pointed out: “What is needed here is leadership and the understanding that we can protect remaining areas of high conservation value forests that are currently on the chopping block, creating jobs in tourism as we go and making a transition to a modern non-conflictive forest industry using the oodles of available wood that is non-contentious.”
One hopes Labor's environmental spokesperson Peter 'Principled Pete' Garrett, long time Tasmanian forest campaigner alongside Greens Senator Bob Brown, is feeling the dud he is right now. When he addressed the National Press Club as in 2003 as head of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Peter Garrett claimed "With national leadership in sustainability reforms, looking after the environment is not an obstacle, instead it can be a driver of our economy."
He went on: "Increasingly people talk about the economic cost of not protecting the environment. They see good environmental policies as common sense and they understand the issues as never before."
Labor's latest announcement is poor public policy, and poor on leadership. Spare a thought for poor Pete? Not likely.
Image: Peaceful protests in the Upper Florentine Valley, Tasmania, courtesy of sydneyindymedia