Monday, May 24, 2010

Gittins today - How Rudd got into the mess:

Kevin Rudd has his back to the wall. He's no fighter, but he has little option but to stand and fight for his bitterly resisted resource super profits tax. With luck the experience will help turn him into the more substantial figure we need to lead us.

All Rudd's instincts - and those of the Hollow Men on whose counsel he relies - must be to ditch or greatly water down a tax he now discovers has proved hugely unpopular with the miners and which an economically uncomprehending business community doesn't like the sound of.

For a man who's always searching for a soft cop - those "reforms" that are riding high in the opinion polls, such as health care and, formerly, action on climate change - this must have come as a great shock to him.

But Rudd has no choice but to stand and fight. Having instantly shredded his credibility with his cowardly decision to cut and run from his emissions trading scheme when its popularity slipped, he simply can't afford another blow to his reputation.

If that's not enough, there's this: almost all the nice things he's promising to do if he's re-elected - cut company tax, help small business, further subsidise superannuation and the rest - hang off the resource tax. No tax, no goodies.

Normally, a prime minister has room for tweaks to placate the vested interests, but this time Rudd has none. His credibility is too low.

And the precedent of weakness he set with all his cave-ins to miners and other rent-seekers over the emissions trading scheme means giving the miners something this time would be more likely to further incite their greed than calm them.

Rudd is a weak man fallen among thieves. He may be from Queensland, but his moral compass now comes courtesy of Sussex Street. I'm sure he remains convinced of his own uprightness, but clinging to office comes first.

Actually, for a bunch that puts political expediency above all, Rudd's cynical advisers have made a succession of bad calls...

Continued at SMH

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