This article presents an analysis of past and present Australian climate polices, starting with the Hawke Labor government (1983-1991) and finishing with the unsuccessful implementation of an emissions trading scheme (ETS), the Australian Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) by the Labor government under Rudd and, subsequently, Gillard (2007-current). The study reveals that Australia's position was climate proactive only under the Hawke government. Subsequent climate change policy retreat (1996-2007) resulted in a range of 'noregrets' and symbolic actions taken domestically and internationally. Arguably, this was due to strong political influence stemming from the fossil fuel industry and coal producers. Climate change was a key Labor policy promoted in the 2007 federal election and is attributed to Labor gaining power. One of the government's first actions was ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, but attempts to legislate a proposed CPRS were unsuccessful. An analysis of the proposed CPRS demonstrates that 97 per cent of the funds potentially generated from the scheme would have doubtfully served any carbon pollution reduction. The CPRS proposal offered a continuation of previous federal governments' lack of action on climate policy, and favoured the interests of the fossil fuel industry.