Greens leader Richard Di Natale has set down his bargaining principles on the reindexation of fuel excise, as he rebuffed suggestions of a compromise solution on family tax benefits.

The Coalition has until October to obtain Senate authority for its decision to peg the fuel excise against inflation, after it was frozen by the Howard government in 2001 and began falling in real terms.

Former leader Christine Milne staunchly opposed the proposal. But Senator Di Natale today said the party could support a “pollution tax” if it were not “regressive” and the money were used to “drive transformation” in the transport sector.

“There’s no point increasing the price of petrol if you use all of that money to build more roads to fuel more pollution, and when you do that at a time, as this government did, in its last budget which attacked almost every group in the community, anybody who was the elderly, the sick, the poor — all really tough targeted in the last budget, and that continues on in this budget — increasing the price of petrol is regressive,” Senator Di Natale said.

“We need to ensure that if we’re going to increase the price of petrol, that’s the whole point of a pollution tax, is that you provide people with alternatives, you use the money that’s raised in those areas to help drive the transformation of the transport sector and that you deal with some of those regressive impacts.”

Senator Di Natale said proposed changes to the Family Tax Benefit Part B would “remove support for sole parents” and could not be supported, even if the proposed cut-off were raised from six to 10 or 12 years of age.

“If you’re a sole parent, and you’re still supporting a young family, whether the support stops at six or 10 I don’t think makes a big difference,” he said.

“Part of the problem the government faces is that it has just been obstinate when it comes to looking at the issue of revenue. I just don’t understand why it has ignored super tax concessions, I don’t understand why it doesn’t back the Greens proposal to remove the huge subsidy that goes to the mining industry in the form of cheap diesel.

“There are things that it could do … to get these important reforms through, like childcare reforms, without having to punish other families.”

Extracted in full from The Australian.

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