Julia Gillard sent me an email yesterday headed “The right side of history”. You may recall she recently accused Tony Abbott of being on the wrong side of history to which he responded that she was on the “wrong side of truth.
I haven’t heard Abbott use the phrase again, but the fact that Gillard has put it in the subject line of an email almost two months after she first made the claim suggests that focus groups are telling her it is a good line.
One of the problems for the government since well before Julia Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd is its inability to package messages simply enough to achieve cut through. Perhaps on this one she has, and that might go some way to explaining the improvement in her polling figures from 26% on September 16 to 32% now.
Mind you, objectively speaking, and based on this email, Abbott’s accusation has a lot to commend it. Here is the text with my comments in square brackets:
After two decades of debate about action on climate change, the Labor Government’s Clean Energy Future legislation passed through Parliament today [This makes it sound like Labor, and the PM, have been fighting for this legislation for 20 years, when in fact it only became a basis for partisan debate in the 2007 election]. For the first time, we will have a law that cuts the carbon pollution [carbon emissions cannot be called pollution, anymore than you could call a flood “water pollution”] which causes climate change.
We all share in marking this historic day. The Government would not be able to pass this legislation if it wasn’t for Party members and supporters, especially those from the Labor Environment Activists Network, who have worked towards this goal for such a long time.
Labor has fought hard to do the right thing [including ditching the fight when Rudd was deposed?].
Together, we’re protecting the environment for our children and our grandchildren [only very marginally true given the contribution of Australia’s emissions to those of the entire world and only if you accept there is an environmental threat in the first place]. Importantly, we are doing it in the proudest of Labor traditions; by supporting jobs [on any objective assessment this is wrong, an increase in our cost structure relative to other countries will destroy jobs, no matter what you think of the environmental consequences] and helping families [they are “helping families” only be compensating them for the first tranche of price increases, which are the reason help is necessary in the first place]. In time, the scaremongering by Tony Abbott and the opposition [pass conceded on this politicians all indulge in hyperbole as this email more than amply shows] will prove to be just that.
Future generations will judge that we are on the right side of history and that by acting now, we were able to lay the foundations of a clean energy future.
With a price on carbon pollution, I see a future where companies will be more environmentally friendly; Australians will get a better deal because clean-green choices are cheaper [hydro-power might be cheaper, but every other form is more expensive, that’s why she is being forced to “help” families] and more competitive than polluting ones [see my earlier remarks on pollution, and this can only be true if she taxes the hell out of carbon emitting industries and restricts the claim to domestically based industries]; and new industries are created with high-paying, skilled jobs for the future [the only way these jobs will be high paying is because they are supported by the tax payer, not because they can stand on their own feet, and there is nothing particularly “skilled” about installing new solar panels and most of the other jobs that go with solar and wind.]
It’s possible for both Gillard and Abbott to be correct of course, but the real test that worries them isn’t history at all, it’s the next election, in which case, expect that most of the early “high-paying, skilled jobs” will be in market research and communications.