Pity poor Craig Emerson, Labor’s Minister for Trade and Competitiveness. No matter how hard he tries to tell us that Labor is our salvation, he just can’t get the words and the music right.
In The Weekend Australian he opened an opinion piece with the fateful words: “With a mining tax and a carbon tax starting on July 1, get ready for assertions that Gillard Labor is the highest taxing government in Australia’s history.”
Could have been a beautiful story. Truly. But before going to press Craig forgot to talk to that mythical someone who is coordinating Labor’s approach to domestic politics. The person who inspired Nikki Savva’s inspired critique of Labor’s spin doctoring on the carbon tax – fatefully in the same edition of The Weekend Australian.
Savva explained how Prime Minister Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan have resorted to the ultimate trick in Labor’s bag of political scheming foibles: ignore the truth and pretend it’s something else.
Savva catalogued with admirable finesse how the words ‘carbon tax’ has disappeared from Gillard and Swan’s lexicons. They have been supplanted by the term ‘carbon pricing’. Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, was also issued the same songsheet and he has sung sweetly about ‘the carbon pricing mechanism’. Curmudgeonly members of the commentariat have displayed their typical bitchy refusal to bow before The Great Spin Doctor in the Sky and have questioned these eminent representatives of the Australian electorate about their quibbling only to be met with a straight bat of price rather than tax.
Until Craig left his songsheet at home and blundered into print with an opening salvo that would have Labor’s apparatchiks vomiting their breakfasts by raising, in his opening paragraph, the very spectre of Gillard Labor being the highest taxing administration in Australia’s history. Oh, Craig, how could you?
Certainly Craig went on to intellectually propose the alternative viewpoint but all too little, too late. Could be a frosty reception at the next Caucus meeting, Craig. Just quietly, mate, the word tax has been removed from the hymnal.
And to think there will be former Labor MPs after the election who will wonder just what happened and why? Yeah, go figure, guys.