A Letter From Kevin Rudd, Former Prime Minister of Australia

Kevin Rudd was once prime minister of Australia. Now he's writing Jacobin angry letters. Here he defends his record on climate change.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd speaks at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre during the Labor Party campaign launch in Brisbane, Sunday, Sep. 1 2013. (Photo by Lukas Coch / Getty Images)

To the Editors at Jacobin:

Jeff Sparrow is totally wrong about my record on climate change as Australia’s prime minister. By his account, I was so “rattled” by the rise of Tony Abbott as opposition leader that I “abandoned” our planned emissions trading scheme in April 2010. None of this is true.

First, I was far from “rattled” by Abbott, who was widely viewed as unelectable. In my estimation, we were a united team, elected with a thumping majority less than three years earlier, leading our opponents 54-46 in the polls. In head-to-head polls, my advantage as the people’s preferred prime minister was even starker. Had our party maintained its unity, I have no doubt we would have wiped the floor with him at the 2010 election.

Second, I never “abandoned” the emissions trading scheme. After the Green Party twice ganged up with Abbott to block our legislation in parliament, we decided to delay implementation for two years, to coincide with the commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. We would certainly have pushed ahead with the scheme then, had the plotters not staged their leadership coup in June 2010.

The option of a double-dissolution poll to help force the legislation through parliament remained a viable option for our government, right up to the day that Julia Gillard and her co-conspirators drew their knives.

— Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia