Sid Maher, 15 April 2016

Labor has explicitly ruled out supporting a push by green groups to scrap the diesel fuel rebate for miners after a coalition of environmental groups increased pressure on the government to slash the measure by releasing polling showing public support for the move.

Opposition Resources spokesman Gary Gray there was “no circumstance under which the removal of the diesel fuel rebate will ever be good public policy’’.

He said such a move was also not consistent with “age old’’ tax traditions of not taxing business inputs.

Environmental groups including WWF Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation, GetUp! and today released polling showing 27.5 per cent respondents want the money redirected to health and 26.3 per cent favour directing the money to growing renewable energy instead of providing “subsidies’’ to miners as part of the fuel tax credit scheme.

The groups claim up to $7.7bn could be redirected to other areas if the “subsidies’’ were scrapped. This includes $5.5bn from ending non-agricultural fuel tax credits, $650m from ending exploration and prospecting deductions for the mining industry and $1.2bn for ending the concessional rate of excise levied on aviation gasoline and aviation turbine fuel.

ReachTel polling of 2664 Australians conducted on Monday found 52.8 per cent of respondents opposing giving $2.1bn a year of taxpayer funds to “subsidise the costs of mining companies and 54 per cent opposed giving $1.1bn in “subsidies’’ to gas companies.

Ending fossil fuel “subsidies’’ was also the favoured revenue raising measure (36.4 per cent_ compared with 19.3 per cent favouring reducing negative gearing and 17.8 per cent in favour of rasing the GST.

Mr Gray said the diesel fuel rebate was not a subsidy because what was being rebated was the embedded road user charge in the cost of diesel.

“This is not a subsidy. We do not subsidise mining.’’

Mr Gray said the rebate was critical to industries such as fishing, remote farming as well as mining.

WWF-Australia’s national manager for climate change Kellie Caught said” “We have a budget crisis and a global warming crisis but none of the major parties have put the obvious solution on the table.

“The poll clearly shows our political leaders are out of step with the common sense view of Australians who don’t want their taxpayers’ dollars being spent propping up fossil fuels and would rather see it spent on growing clean renewable energy and health,’’ Ms Caught said.

Extracted in full from The Australian.