Just as Rudd wanted to consult, the axe suddenly fell, writes Tom Arup.
On Monday green campaigners hit the halls of Parliament House with an air of optimism. Kevin Rudd was opening a window on climate change and they had arrived to ''consult''.
Most had been invited into the government's tent. The heads of the WWF, Australian Conservation Foundation and Climate Institute had all met Rudd's advisers and the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, several times over the past fortnight. Environment Victoria, Conservation Council WA and a community climate change group from Newtown – all under the banner of the Climate Action Network Australia – were also summoned to meet Rudd's advisers on Wednesday.
The government had been bleeding support since April when it shelved its carbon emissions trading scheme until 2013. In one opinion poll after the decision became public through leaks to Fairfax newspapers, the government shed eight primary points. In another, Rudd's approval rating fell 14 per cent.
Rudd promised new but modest policies on energy efficiency and renewable energy to fill the void. That didn't work. So Rudd, on the urging of many in the Labor caucus, decided to work up a significant cut through climate policy for the election to differentiate itself from the opposition and rebuild the government's credibility.