1. Environment

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:

1.2 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 ANTS package.

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 in 2001/2.

This comprises:

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

Item Cost to government revenue ($billion) Benefit to mining industry ($billion)
Reduced petrol excise from substituting refundable GST for excise (7c/l price reduction) $1.36 Considerable; not estimated
Reduced diesel excise from substituting refundable GST for excise (7c/l price reduction) $0.87 Considerable; not estimated
Continuation of existing federal diesel fuel rebate $1.78 $1.088
Continuation of existing state diesel fuel rebates $0.66 Not known
Extension of 100% diesel fuel rebate to all off-road uses $0.55 At least $75 million
Reduced diesel cost for heavy transport (18c/l price reduction) $1.05 At least $735 million
100% diesel fuel rebate for remote power $0.01 Considerable; not estimated
TOTAL $6.28 billion 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 package:


Recommendation 1

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:


Recommendation 2

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.

Recommendation 3

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.

Recommendation 4

The Government explores other, less destructive policy options to assist rural and regional communities.

Industry Impacts

Recommendation 5

The explicit acknowledgment of:

a) enormous negative impacts on sunrise industries including:

b) the massive opportunity and long term costs associated with these negative impacts.

Recommendation 6

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

Recommendation 7

Should the ANTS package proceed, environmentally sound technologies, products and services should be zero rated, for instance:

Non Profit Organisations

Recommendation 8

The Government explicitly acknowledge the significant increases in compliance costs associated that the community sector will face.

Recommendation 9

The complex definitions and distinctions associated with whether particular goods, services and payments are GST free be simplified.

Recommendation 10

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:

2. Increased compliance costs and administrative costs due to:

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:

Recommendation 11

There should be an explicit acknowledgment by the Government of:

Recommendation 12

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.

4. Conclusion

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 fibre.

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 be discouraged.

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



[1] 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.