Nine days in, and the 2010 election campaign is as dismal as any I've witnessed in the past four decades. Tony Abbott defies serious appraisal, while Julia Gillard's entire first month as Prime Minister has been a massive disappointment.
Both parties have bounced into this campaign like Spain and Holland playing the World Cup Final. Both sides playing with as little attacking flair as possible so as not to make mistakes and therefore lose. We have seen little in the first week in the way of policy announcement and what we have seen instills little in the way of confidence. Better, I think, to ignore election promises for now and try to second guess how each side will actually behave once the election is won.
For all the statements and non sequiteurs of Week One there could be possibly no greater disapointment than La Gillardine's approach to climate change policy. The warning signs were there in her announcement on July 17 of the election when she said:
"I will be having more to say about climate change during the campaign and what I can say very clearly and guarantee for you, that as we announce those policies, my policies, they will be policies coming from a person who believes climate change is real. Who believes it’s caused by human activity and who has never equivocated in that belief."
- press conference, Canberra, 17.7.10 (source: alp.org.au)
A statement as profound as saying "I believe in income tax."
And the following Friday, there came the announcement that a Gillard Government would form a Citizen's Assembly to "examine the evidence on climate change, the case for action and a market based approach to reducing pollution".
All the things that had been accepted as fact by both sides prior to the 2007 federal election. And guaranteeing, if implemented, that it would be at least 2012 or 2013 before we even start to do anything meaningful about combating climate change. Moving forward? Hello?
The Citizen's Assembly, apart from evoking images of Kevin Rudd's vapourware 2020 Summit, has been ridiculed from all sides, chiefly with the reminder that Australians are voting for their all-purpose citizen's assembly on August 21. Tony Abbott had his appearance on "Hey Hey It's Saturday" last, er, Wednesday. Julia Gillard's climate change policy reminds me of the title of an acclaimed radio comedy series from the land of both Tony Abbott's and Julia Gillard's birth, but sadly under-exposed in Australia: "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue".