SENATOR DEE MARGETTS
THE GREENS (WA)
SENATOR BOB BROWN
THE AUSTRALIAN GREENS
1.1 Agreement With the Chair's Report
The Greens (WA) and the Australian Greens agree with the account of
the evidence presented in the majority report. The Greens (WA) and the
Australian Greens share the environmental concerns raised by the majority
report in relation to:
1. Departmental participation, including:
- the inadequacy of Environment Australia's written and oral submission
to the Committee; and
2. Inconsistency of the ANTS package with international obligations
and recommendations including:
3. Inconsistency of the ANTS package with international trends in ecological
tax reform, including:
4. Inconsistency of the ANTS package with other Government initiatives
- direct funding for the development of gas infrastructure; and
Living Cities Program.
5. Severe environmental and related impacts including:
6. Severe health impacts (and related social costs) associated with
increases in air pollution and increased use of road transport, including:
- lung cancer;
- other respiratory diseases such as asthma coughing, bronchitis and
7. Prospective and current disincentives to take up gaseous fuels (Liquid
Petroleum Gas and Compressed Natural Gas) by:
8. Further disincentives to take up renewable energy use such as:
- solar power; and
9. Destruction of the recycled oil by the reduction in diesel excise
with implications for the volume of waste oil to be disposed of.
10. Missed opportunities to move towards the use of gaseous fuels,
renewable energies and recycling techniques for oil that:
11. Disincentives to use public transport due to:
12. Incentives to shift from rail to road transport due to the `unlevel
playing field' which is:
1.2 Who Wins from the Reduction in Fuel Excise
In addition to the evidence presented in the majority report, the Greens
(WA) and the Australian Greens believe that it is important to outline
exactly who wins from the reduction in fuel excises in the
Essentially, the reduction in excise provides a windfall benefit for
the mining industry, the export woodchip industry. The mining industry
stands to gain at least an additional $800 million a year from the extended
diesel fuel rebate, on top of the $1088 million value of the rebate
- $75 million from the abolition of the 2.4 c/l excise that the mining
industry currently pays for off-road diesel use;
- a minimum of $735 million from the 18 c/l reduction in the price
of diesel used in heavy transport; 
- additional amounts (not estimated) for the GST rebates on diesel
and petrol used in small vehicles
The government estimates that mining industry costs will fall by 4.4%.
This includes the lower price for fuel as well as reductions in sales
tax on equipment. Apart from the direct effect on greenhouse gas emissions
from reduced fuel prices, these subsidies will flow through to the price
of coal used in electricity generation. They will also make it relatively
cheaper to operate in remote locations.
Table. Expanded rebates of fuel excise now called `credits'
-- available to business generally, and to the mining industry, under
the government's GST plan
||Cost to government revenue ($billion)
||Benefit to mining industry ($billion)
|Reduced petrol excise from substituting refundable
GST for excise (7c/l price reduction)
||Considerable; not estimated
|Reduced diesel excise from substituting refundable
GST for excise (7c/l price reduction)
||Considerable; not estimated
|Continuation of existing federal diesel fuel rebate
|Continuation of existing state diesel fuel rebates
|Extension of 100% diesel fuel rebate to all off-road
||At least $75 million
|Reduced diesel cost for heavy transport (18c/l price
||At least $735 million
|100% diesel fuel rebate for remote power
||Considerable; not estimated
||Well over $1.9 billion
Export woodchipping is like mining in more ways than one. The native-forest
based woodchip industry also benefits handsomely from the government's
- vehicles and equipment used in logging native forest GST-free if
the woodchips are exported;
- woodchips GST-free, when exported;
- diesel cost for transporting logs and chips reduced by 25c/l; and
- diesel fuel rebate continues for off-road machinery.
That there be a inquiry to examine ecological tax reform elements that
could replace or stand parallel to elements of the government's current
ANTS package such as:
- carbon taxes; and
- tax incentives for fuel efficient and low pollution vehicles and
The proposed reduction in all fuel excises is abandoned in acknowledgment
of the extensive short and long term health, environmental and economic
costs directly associated with the reduction.
The Government calculate the whole range of economic, environmental
and social costs associated with fuel use (such as road costs, pollution,
congestion, noise, health impacts) and incorporate them into the level
of fuel excise.
The Government explores other, less destructive policy options to assist
rural and regional communities.
The explicit acknowledgment of:
a) enormous negative impacts on sunrise industries including:
- the alternative fuel industries such as LPG and CNG;
- the renewable energy industries such as solar and wind; and
- the recycled oil industry;
b) the massive opportunity and long term costs associated with these
A greater commitment by the Government to direct and indirect assistance
to encourage the development of these industries and the take up of
these more sustainable technologies.
Environmentally Friendly Products and Services
Should the ANTS package proceed, environmentally sound technologies,
products and services should be zero rated, for instance:
- public transport fares; and
- solar panels
Non Profit Organisations
The Government explicitly acknowledge the significant increases in
compliance costs associated that the community sector will face.
The complex definitions and distinctions associated with whether particular
goods, services and payments are GST free be simplified.
Substantially increased funds be made available to assist the community
sector with start up costs in addition to the $500 million currently
available to small business, community and charity organisations.
2. Arts and Cultural Industries
The Greens (WA) also concur with the account of the evidence presented
in the majority report in relation to the impact of the ANTS package
on the arts and cultural community. The Greens share these concerns
in relation to:
1. Increases in prices of tickets and costs of production to a significantly
greater degree than other consumer disposables resulting in:
- reduction in artistic diversity and creative vitality
- reduction in employment;
- increased barriers to training and entry into the industry for new
and upcoming artists; and
- decline in financial strength of individual organisations and the
industry as a whole.
2. Increased compliance costs and administrative costs due to:
- complex distinctions and definitions as to what items are tax exempt;
- increases in record keeping; and
- decisions as to whether to register for GST purposes.
3. Lack of consultation that had occurred between Government and the
arts community resulting in distortions, undermining broader cultural
policy objectives and failure to take into account the peculiar nature
of the arts industry including:
- the range of current WST exemptions;
- the role of Government grants in supporting artists and organisations
especially in the initial stages of creative development;
- the role and sensitivity of sponsorships and the fixed nature of
- inelasticity of prices for tickets; and
- low incomes of individual artists thus their vulnerability to even
minor cost increases.
There should be an explicit acknowledgment by the Government of:
- the peculiarities of the arts and cultural industries and the value
of the industry which exacerbate the negative impact of the ANTS package
on the industry;
- the immense contribution the arts industry makes to the nature including
contributing to employment, GDP, export potential, expression of Australia's
diverse cultural identity, debate around current issues, promotion
of a more imaginative and creative society, the showcasing Australia
to the world.
There should be further inquiry into policy options to ameliorate the
immense negative impact on this industry.
3. Communications Industries and Services
The Greens (WA) also share the concerns presented in the majority report
in relation to the impact of the ANTS package on the communications
industries and services particularly in relation to telecommunication
prices and community broadcasting.
Taxation can help move Australia's economy from old dirty and wasteful
industries, which employ relatively few people, to new clean green job-rich
industries. Instead of relying on coal, especially brown coal for electricity
generation, we can invest in energy efficiency, wind and solar energy.
Instead of woodchipping native forests, we can invest in processing
existing plantations to meet our needs for building materials and wood
The Greens (WA) and the Australian Greens believe the Australian Government
is missing a rare window of opportunity during this tax reform process.
The Australian Government should follow the example provided by Britain
and other European countries as illustrated by the following quote:
We said in our manifesto that what governments choose to tax
sends clear signals about the economic activities they believe should
be encouraged and those that should be discouraged. Just as work should
be encouraged through the tax system, environmental pollution should
To that end, the Government will reform the tax system, so that
we encourage growth that is environmentally sustainable. It will encourage
the delivery of a more dynamic economy and cleaner environment, to the
benefit of all.
The statement of intent establishes our position on the use of environmental
taxes. It is backed, today, by a range of other announcements. Taken
together, these measures demonstrate the Government's determination
to place the environment at the centre of policy making.
British Financial Secretary, July 1997
|Senator Dee Margetts
||Senator Bob Brown
|Senator for Western Australia
||Senator for Tasmania
|The Greens (WA)
||The Australian Greens
 70% by weight of bulk freight movements
and 90% by weight of commodity exports are mining industry products
(ABS statistics). Coal alone was 30% of bulk freight movements. There
are no measures of the actual amount of fuel used to transport different
categories of freight; freight movements and exports are used as proxies.