Trouble down under – what went wrong with Rudd?

Interesting to hear in the news about the appointment of Australia’s first female Prime Minister, but I must admit that I had been woefully unaware of the immense slump of popularity suffered by the hitherto golden boy of Aussie politics, Kevin Rudd.

Rudd swept to power on a wave of popularity, and seemed to be doing all the right things, particularly with his historic apology to the Aboriginal peoples.

My early criticisms of him and Pete Garrett with regard to their unwillingness to stand up to Whalers seemed to have been misplaced as Australia are now one of the leading voices in the anti-Whaling movement.

But scarcely had his feet touched the ground, and he is gone, booted out by a disgruntled parliamentary party.

The question is why…

It seems complicated and convuluted, and seems likely to come down to a whole range of back-tracking and apparent weak decision making, but one of the key points which will be raised is his U-turn on a flagship policy which would have seen Australia take the lead on a global level in the area of reducing carbon emissions.

But effectively it seems to me that he caved in to pressure, pressure from the public who wanted the policy but weren’t prepared to pay for it, and pressure from business which didnt like his interventionist approach. Pressure also came from without – as various other countries dithered and did nothing much about reducing their own emissions, how could Australia afford to spend so much money on something nobody else was willing to do? And as Rudd wavered, I now realise, his popularity slumped.

In the end I think this may go down in history as a major opportunity missed, another example of the failure of democratic decision making, and a triumph of capitalism over common sense.

A shame, Australia out of all of the developed nations should have been in a good position to take a lead on environmental politics. Hey ho.

Good bye Kevin Rudd, hello Julia Gillard.