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Australian Emissions Trading Scheme Shelved Indefinitely

The emissions trading scheme has been shelved indefinitely by the Rudd government with a long-awaited Senate vote on the scheme not expected until after the next election, senior government sources say.

A Senate vote on the trading scheme legislation, which was due next month, has now been dropped by the government for the May and June sittings of Parliament.

A government source said yesterday the fate of the Senate vote on the legislation beyond June was unclear.

The source said the decision to park the legislation indefinitely reflected the political reality that the opposition, under leader Tony Abbott, and the Greens had vowed to reject the scheme in the Senate.

Unless the Coalition or the Greens change their positions the government will now have to wait until July 1 next year for the Senate to change over after this year’s federal election to negotiate with a potentially less hostile Parliament – unless a double-dissolution election is called.

The government will now concentrate on passing other matters in the Senate including its national health reform package and the national broadband network. ”Obviously there are a lot of pressures in the Senate, so the government has to prioritise the reforms that are most likely to be passed,” the source said.

After the trading scheme was rejected by the Senate for a second time last December, the government promised an amended version to be negotiated with former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull.

But in February the government delayed the vote to March to give priority to a vote on changes to the private health insurance rebate. In March the legislation was put off until May and has now been delayed indefinitely.

The parking of one of the Rudd government’s central policy commitments of the 2007 election means it is running out of time to pass the scheme before its proposed start date of July 1 next year, the same day the new Senate make-up will take effect.

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