Kevin Rudd has been taking up a lot of our time as of late. We attended a community cabinet last Wednesday. It was held in the South Australian electorate of Sturt, a marginal electorate that includes our suburb Norwood.
We dressed up and I shaved because we figured that we would have more of a chance to ask a question. We had been pre-briefed by Anna that we would have to have a clean cut look to be picked to ask a question.
Shoes and hair are always the activist giveaways. These sneakers were swapped for a sensible black pair.
Cass' op-shop outfit.
When we arrived the cops ushered us up to the building where there was a metal detector and registration. Not having pre-registered we were placed on a bench marked "Group W" (not really) while they did a police check. Once they had established we were not wanted criminals they gave us each a button marked "CC10" and sent us into the main hall.
Cass nervously awaits the Cabinet's arrival.
The proceedings inside were very well attended and lot more informal than I was expecting. Not only by the 200 strong public section but by 10 ministers representing the front bench. I was expecting a more round table kind of thing but it was more of a panel talk with Kevin Rudd presiding.
Kevin Rudd himself picked audience members to ask their questions and there was a sea of raised hands. Cass did some strategic eye-catching and was horrified to find herself winked at by Kev, but thrilled to be up next. The whole thing was on the fly, so we'd only had time to work out a question on the bus on the way there. It was based on the FoE action call-out, but as Cass said in her letter to the editor, below, he never really answered.
I asked him if he would bring an emissions reduction target to the Copenhagen Accord of 45% by 2020, to avoid catastrophic climate change, which the head of the IPCC has said we only have until 2012 to achieve.
Kevin Rudd's response, though lengthy and designed to pacify, was, in essence, a cool "No."
The message was clear. Climate scientists and half the world's nations agree that warming must be kept below 1.5 degrees celcius, and 350 CO2 ppm, but the Prime Minister talked about 2 degrees and 450 ppm.
How he plans to meet even these irrelevant targets is a mystery, given that he went on to explain his plans to "do no more than other countries."
This line is a cop-out that will see Adelaide fry and the Pacific Islands deluged.
Based on current assessments of country promises, the 2020 targets will head us towards 3.5-4 degrees warming, which would be a catastrophe.
Several other attendees came up afterwards and expressed their disappointment at the PM's response.
The blur that is Kevin Rudd dodging the issue.
After Cass asked her question I felt inspired and a lot more confident to ask one. I wanted to take him to task for not answering properly and follow on into an question about clean energy technology. I started to leave my hand up obviously and was soon winked at in a "you're next" way, until he saw me saying something to Cass (we were sitting seperately) and so refused to make eye contact with me again until the meeting was over. I felt very proud of Cass for asking her question and very disappointed in the wishy-washy answer as many other people seemed to be judging by the people who came up after.
After the main question time was over some people had pre-booked to talk to individual ministers but we were set to go to town to do another thing on the list of 31, number 23. go to an escapist movie. Unfortunately we couldn't make it as the community cabinet ran over time.
Made it! Almost. The way out was patrolled by nervous police, and was a less than ideal place to roll an ankle.
Celebratory beer at the Cranker. The only time we have ever been overdressed for a venue.
PS From Cass -
Here's how we went calling Rudd and Wong.
John called on Tuesday, but Rudd's secretary was pretty short. She let him finish, but advised, "I've got phone calls and work galore today, everyone's calling about this, so put it in writing."
The phone was off the hook when it was my turn to call on Tuesday night, so on Wednesday morning I tried again. Rudd's secretary was still having a bad week. I asked if I could read her out a message I'd written and she let me get a certain way in, even noting down the figure of 45% (as if she'd heard it before), before cutting me off with, "So it's a climate change issue, well I can certainly pass that on for you Cassie, bye bye." I agreed.
Following this I revised my cheat-sheet to make it more succinct, so that I could make sure Penny Wong's office took down the points I really wanted to make.
The person at Wong's office told John to send an email instead. I was told the same thing, but with the option to proceed.
"To be honest the best way is for you to send an email, but I can take down a message as well if you like."
"Would you mind? It's just a couple of points."
I read out my little spiel and thanked the secretary for taking it down.
After the Rudd winking incident I adapted the FoE pro-forma letter to include the community cabinet question and response and sent it to the Advertiser. It hasn't appeared, but in checking for it on Thursday I noticed a short article about Rudd possibly talking to the Greens about their plan to get a greener version of his ETS scheme through the Senate. Onya Kev!