Saturday, December 08, 2007

Crean Speaks on Climate Change

Simon Crean is in Bali for Trade talks - appropriate, given that is his portfolio. But he seems to have spoken out of turn on climate change. He has more experience than to do that. Mr Crean said that developing countries, including China and India, must commit to much tougher emission targets before Australia would commit to a post-Kyoto Agreement on Climate Change.

Worse, Mr Crean then went on to say that Australia would not commit to any binding targets till next year - at least till after the report on the economics of climate change is handed to the Federal Government.

Already Prime Minister Rudd has said that what Mr Crean suggested about developing countries is not the Government's policy. It would seem that Trade Minister Crean has spoken out on an area that is not his portfolio, and made suggestions that are not (officially) government policy. Nevertheless, climate change will have an effect on trade, and it is appropriate for the Trade Minister to make comments about climate change - they just need to be consistent with government policy.

There is a danger that Kevin Rudd will seek to assert HIS "strong leadership". The problem with that is that "strong leadership" often seeks to dominate by stifling discussion, even among colleagues. This is the type of control used by former Prime Minister John Howard - to his ultimate detriment, the detriment of the Liberal Party, and to the detriment of good policy for the Australian people.

Kevin Rudd will certainly need to discuss the problem with Simon Crean. Ministers must not become compliant servants of the Prime Minister. They need clear direction, a deep understanding of Government Policy, and need to learn to be trusted to speak on matters that affect their portfolio.