Greens leader Richard Di Natale wants changes to the diesel fuel rebate for mining companies to be on the table in negotiations with the Abbott government on whether to increase fuel excise.

In a contentious demand, Senator Di Natale said the “enormously profitable” mining industry should not get cheap fuel that costs taxpayers $10 billion in forgone revenue over the four years of budget forward estimates.

The demand is a challenge for Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who is negotiating with Senator Di Natale about last year’s budget measure to restore the indexation of fuel excise and raise $22.7bn in extra revenue over a decade.

Labor has rejected the change but the Greens are open to supporting the bill if the government accepts demands such as greater spending on public transport.

The diesel fuel excise of 37.5c a litre is returned to miners in its entirety on the ground their mining vehicles do not use public roads.

“Gina Rinehart gets a huge discount on her petrol when ordinary mums and dads end up having to pay the full whack. Of course it should be (discussed in negotiations),” Senator Di Natale said.

“This is a policy that stands on its own two feet. If the government’s looking for savings, (there’s) no better area than to get rid of this hugely inequitable subsidy.”

Last year the government announced it would raise the fuel excise by indexing it to inflation.

It did not put it to a vote in the Senate but adjusted the indexation in the belief the change would be legislated in due course. The bill is still before the upper house.

Former Greens leader Christine Milne refused to do a deal with the government to increase the fuel excise but Senator Di Natale, who replaced Senator Milne as party leader in May, is open to the idea.

Senator Di Natale said the $10bn that goes to mining companies in fuel rebates could instead be invested in Medicare or education.

Extracted in full from The Australian.