Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Australian Election

The former Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard was defeated by the leader of the Australian Labour Party, Kevin Rudd in that country’s most recent general election. Kevin Rudd is now the Prime Minister of Australia.

The interesting point here for Canadians is why John Howard was defeated. The single most important reason was John Howard’s reluctance to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Equally important was how the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd was able to bring the trade unions on side during the campaign. In Australia, the trade unions have been at odds with the Labour Party over environmental issues where it may cost them jobs. Regardless, Kevin Rudd succeeded to the extent that he had the general public on side that is also unanimously on side with ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

The UN reports Australia as the third worst of the world’s polluters and Australia is reported to be the world’s largest per capita producer of carbon dioxide. John Howard’s reluctance to effectively address the issue of climate change cost him his job as Prime Minister of Australia.

So what does John Howard’s defeat have to do with Canadians? Well, to begin with, John Howard’s leadership in Australia immensely influenced Stephen Harper and the conservative party. The Harper conservatives admired the former Prime Minister of Australia both while they were in opposition and while they were in government. Understandably, the conservatives have gone silent on John Howard since he was defeated by the Labour Party, led by Kevin Rudd, over climate change and, in particular, Kyoto. Stephen Harper faces the same challenges, as did former Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Harper will have to carefully balance the interests of labour, business and the general public on climate change and Kyoto. Dion may not be dead if he plays his cards as well as Kevin Rudd did in Australia. The similarities on this issue between Australia and Canada are, at the very least, very interesting.

Former Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, failed to address the voters concerns over climate change and it cost him his job. John Howard and Stephen Harper were politically close. Will PM Stephen Harper follow the same path as John Howard? If so, it may cost him his job as well. Canadians are concerned about climate change and Stephen Harper will be well advised if he heeds their concerns.