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December 07th 2009 print

Merv Bendle

Rudd’s Chamberlain moment

Rudd could come back from Copenhagen waving an agreement like Neville Chamberlain returning from Munich.

Australia’s climate messiah

The front page headline said it all: “Rudd’s Copenhagen Dash” (Weekend Australian, 5-6/12/2009). The RAAF has Kev’s Big Jet on the tarmac, with the engines running, and the crew sleeping in the aisle, awaiting their master’s command. Finally! Australia has its Messiah, its climate change champion, ready to rush around the world to galvanize the Copenhagen conference, stiffen the wilting resolve of the participants, and deliver the world in one climactic act from the carbonized catastrophe that awaits us all. What a Wagnerian vision! What a time to be alive!

Or perhaps not: perhaps Kevin Rudd has gotten just a little over-excited about his self-appointed role as the number-one ‘can-do man’ of international politics, elevating himself into the big league by making himself useful to the Climate Change Lobby. Certainly, the domestic scene is not promising: his bluff has been called in the Senate; Penny Wong has been revealed as an ineffective, too-clever-by-half and boring drone; he faces a tough new opposition leader, who actually understands political tactics and strategy; and the by-election results in Higgins and Bradfield have disproved the notion that there’s a deep-seated groundswell of climate change concern in the electorate capable of re-shaping the political landscape in Australia.

Internationally, the Saudis have denounced the entire notion of anthropogenic climate change; James Hansen, the fanatical guru of that notion, has himself denounced the Copenhagen talk-fest, as has Al Gore; and the IMF has denounced Rudd’s favoured emissions trading scheme. Meanwhile, China and India have invented entire new concepts, such as ‘carbon intensity’, so that they can continue to pretend they are really prepared to sacrifice their own economic growth to accommodate the messianic obsessions of the West about CO2 in the air. And even President Obama, with whom Rudd fantasizes he has a special relationship, finds himself plummeting towards the day of reckoning, when the limits of rhetoric are exposed and he is forced to face the obduracy of a 10%+ unemployment rate in the US, and a litany of failure in every policy area into which he has blundered.

On the other hand, the Copenhagen hysteria has been building to a fever pitch, and the usual gangs of anti-Western, anti-globalization, anti-Semitic, anti-capitalist, and anti-climate change fanatics are converging on the city for the traditional festival of violence and irrationalism. And that should ensure there’s sufficient excitement to keep up the spirits of the participants as they prepare to bargain away the futures of the countries they represent. Herded together, in a pressure-cooker atmosphere, surrounded by over-bearing bureaucrats, hyper-attentive lobbyists, and assorted political groupies, they may well prove capable of signing up the world to something really stupid.

And it is here that the irony lies, because it seems that Rudd really thinks he can actively lead this messianic movement, when the reality is that he can no more lead it than the prow can lead the ship – he could disappear tomorrow and this contemporary crusade wouldn’t pause for an instant. It wouldn’t notice he’d gone, any more than it would notice he was there in the first place. Equally, he could come back from Copenhagen waving around an agreement like Neville Chamberlain returning from Munich, with as little chance of appeasing the Green fanatics, who will always want vastly more than any conceivable treaty or agreement could provide – at the very least, global-scale ecological lebensraum where they could frolic in a wilderness world worthy of the Gaia they worship.

Unfortunately, at this dangerous time it seems to be Australia’s burden that it has a prime minister who not only indulges himself in such delusions but sees his present job as merely a stepping stone to something ‘really important’, something perhaps with the UN (General-Secretary?) and worthy of the personal destiny he believes he has to fulfill. As a result, he tries to run Australia as if it were a branch office, where he just has to drop by occasionally to bang a few heads together (without actually getting anything important done), while keeping his eye out for the main chance to crack the big league. At the moment it’s climate change and Copenhagen; after that, it’ll be something else.

Hopefully the Coalition realize that they now not only have a chance to turn around their own political fortunes; they also have a responsibility to rescue Australia from the grasp of a second-rate political messiah who’s treating our nation as a plaything, and will go on doing so until someone stops him.