Rudd Missed Chance to Sell Carbon Price, Climate Institute Says

Outgoing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd missed opportunities to protect Australia’s carbon market installed last year by the Labor government, John Connor, chief executive of the Climate Institute in Sydney, said today in a phone interview.

Rudd will be replaced by Tony Abbott after a federal election on Sept. 7. Abbott says he wants to repeal Australia’s carbon tax.

On Rudd’s missed chances to market his party’s carbon program:

Rudd incorrectly bet that moving to the carbon market from a tax a year earlier would be enough to “neutralize” Abbott’s attack on the policy, Connor said. Instead, it reinforced fear among some voters that the carbon price would boost costs.

“You needed a multidimensional sales job,” focusing on the economic benefits from using more renewables and less fossil fuel, he said. The Labor government should have better spelled out the cost of inaction, he said.

“Australia is the advanced economy most at risk from climate change,” Connor said.

On how Abbott should tackle climate protection:

“Rushing for repeal is not necessarily in his interest. There will be growing political pain for him if he has to negotiate with this eclectic bunch” of new senators, who will hold the balance of power in the upper house of the nation’s parliament, Connor said.

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