Narratives and counter-narratives of political strategy: revisiting Australia's carbon pollution reduction scheme

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In 2009, the Australian Senate rejected the government's ambitious Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. In the prevailing narrative surrounding these events, the Labor government, under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, made a series of strategic errors that led to the scheme's–and ultimately, Rudd's and the Labor Party's–downfall. However, by taking a closer look at of some aspects of Australia's parliamentary system, including the norms of partisan voting and the numbers game in parliament, a different story is apparent. A counter-narrative is that the Rudd Labor government's approach was reasonable at the time, but that institutional factors and election outcomes presented significant obstacles to passing climate legislation of any kind. Correcting this narrative will enable a better understanding of the political circumstances in which environmental policies are enacted in Australia, a country with the potential for regional policy leadership on climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-104
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Australia
  • carbon emissions trading
  • carbon pollution reduction scheme
  • climate change

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