Yesterday, the Rudd government officially consigned its Emissions Trading Scheme to the “too hard” basket, announcing the scheme would be delayed until the current Kyoto deal expires in 2012.

Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane wrote in yesterday’s Crikey Daily Mail that the move is all about keeping the political narrative focused squarely on health until the Federal election and heading the Opposition’s “great big tax” campaign off at the pass:

The government today wheeled its dreadful CPRS into the political deep freeze, continuing its pre-election deck-clearing of anything that doesn’t suit the narrative it wants to sell voters between now and August.

But are voters’ attention spans really so short and easily manipulated? As Jason Whittaker points out on Crikey‘s Rooted blog, it was only a year ago that Rudd was banging on about the ETS being “the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time”, and that bailing out on a deal would be “political cowardice” and “an absolute failure of leadership”:

Rudd’s words ring true. He is a coward; a failed leader. He said it himself.

And it isn’t just voters paying attention. Around the world:

New York Times: Australia suspends emissions trading proposal

Wall Street Journal: Australia delays carbon plan

Guardian: Australia puts carbon trading scheme on hold

National Post: Australia won’t cap and trade

Once the darling of the environmental movement, Rudd is now widely seen as ineffectual.

Not to mention our favourite headline of the bunch, from New Zealand, bless their 100% woolen socks:

Suspend the ETS until 2013, just like the Aussies.

Crikey certainly isn’t going to let this one through to the keeper while the government yells “look over there!”; stay tuned for more analysis and opinions in today’s Daily Mail.

In the meantime, check out what the nation’s pundits are saying:

The Australian

Editorial: So that’s what he meant by a great moral challenge

… a government low on political conviction.

Paul Kelly: Rudd’s dangerous climate retreat

… it is simply crystallised: he is a prime minister without the courage to champion the policy that defined him.

Samantha Maiden: No targets as Kevin nurses poll hopes

… isn’t Labor meant to stand for something?

Dennis Shanahan: Too much, too fast leads to chaos

For a leader so committed to an answer to climate change to give up so easily, that commitment makes him look hollow.

Sydney Morning Herald

Lenore Taylor: Jittery leaders put saving their skins above saving the planet

Voters in this year’s election concerned about climate change will have a short-term choice between dumb and dumber.

Lenore Taylor: Decision to put climate action on hold smacks of political cowardice

This decision significantly compromises the Prime Minister’s credibility on the issue

The Age

Editorial: Rudd has quit the battle on climate change

… the Rudd government has shown itself to be easily spooked by opposition rhetoric

Michelle Grattan: PM’s climate credibility undermined

Putting the scheme on the backburner undermines Rudd’s climate credibility, leaving him policy naked.

Shaun Carney: Rudd lost in policy maze

Rudd and his government have attained a whole new level of political expediency.

Herald Sun

Andrew Bolt: Instead of warming to his theme, Rudd’s gone cold on his ETS folly

Rudd wants that zombie down in the crypt, so timid voters won’t tremble.

Daily Telegraph

Malcolm Farr: Climate change our greatest moral dilemma? Er, we’ll get back to you

… climate change has been sent to the attic like an embarrassing relative to stay there for two years,

Courier Mail

Dennis Atkins: Unsuccessful emissions trading scheme pushed into cold

… there is almost no likelihood of a double dissolution election this year.


Tom Switzer: Is there a Plan B for the ETS?

The power of his U-turns and reverse gear is up to the best international standards.


Climate Dilemma, Peter Wood: Kevin Rudd Jumps the Shark on Climate Change and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme

Grog’s Gamut: ETS gets put in the pre-election sin bin

I’d love any in the media to tell me how any ETS legislation is to be passed in this Parliament.

Australian Conservative, Barnaby Joyce: Rudd’s “great moral challenge” on hold

… it oozes of insincerity.

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey