In the leadup to today's release of the Garnaut report, PM Kevin Rudd talked to Kerry O'Brien on The 7.30 Report (here) last night.
O'Brien tried hard to pin down Rudd on the issues. Action is urgently needed, yet the voting public is clamouring for an easy way out on petrol prices. They don't want more pain instigated by climate change action.
Rudd came out of the election with a sizable mandate, particularly in terms of his popularity level, which has remained high. That political capital can be used to invest in longterm vision, yet to date, Rudd has largely avoided the harder calls.
However, he came to the party last night: for every point pressed by O'Brien, he showed he was going to do the hard yards. And coming out of the Howard era, where misleading and lying was the order of the day, Rudd has shown himself to be scrupulously honest.
This is the best hope so far that Australia will indeed act on climate change.
(my take is that the only viable course is to trade carbon emissions, cap the totals, and then reduce allocations over time - focusing on the biggest emitters first. This will force industry adjustments; they don't have to be that painful if the industries know what's coming, so it needs to be announced soon.)
Postscript: The report is out now - available here. The language is strong and impressive, about the need to act. Emission trading is, of course, a central plank. Rudd has hitched his future on this report, and it looks good.