A majority of Australians, including Coalition voters, support taxing the super profits of the booming oil and gas industry, according to an authoritative annual survey.
The latest Climate of the Nation survey of voters – now in its 15th year and managed by the progressive thinktank the Australia Institute – shows 61% of 2,691 respondents would back a windfall tax. The proposal captures majority support across all age, state, gender and voting intention demographics, with the exception of One Nation voters.
The Albanese government is working up a regulatory intervention to bring down soaring energy prices.
In addition to making the gas code mandatory, and potentially imposing price controls, the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has acknowledged “an appetite in the Australian community” to strengthen the petroleum resource rent tax to ensure the budget nets a greater slice of the super profits of LNG producers.
The new poll shows that in addition to a windfall tax, 62% of respondents would support a levy on fossil fuel producers to fund adaptation initiatives needed to avert global heating. A significant majority of respondents (80%) also want routine environmental assessments strengthened, so the climate impact of new fossil fuel developments would be considered in the regulatory process.
Last week’s budget – and a new Treasury forecast that power prices would increase by 56% between now and the end of next year – has put energy front and centre in the national conversation.
Respondents to the Climate of the Nation survey have a range of views about what is driving the price spike.
Most blame the privatisation of electricity generation and gouging by gas and electricity companies, but the survey shows close to a third of respondents think renewables are also part of the picture.
A majority believed policy failure had contributed to the current price spike, with 64% of respondents thinking the market had failed to plan adequately for the transition away from fossil fuels.
Older respondents were more likely to blame privatisation and profiteering for high prices, while younger people were more likely to blame policy failure by the Coalition during the decade-long climate wars.
The poll has tracked attitudes to climate change for more than a decade. The latest survey suggests community concern about the issue persists at record levels, with 75% of respondents saying they are worried, which is the same result at 12 months ago. These results are the highest readings since the survey began, although 30% of respondents believe the seriousness of the climate crisis is exaggerated.
More than half (52%) of survey respondents believe the Albanese government is not doing enough to prepare for the impact of climate change.
The new poll shows women are more concerned about climate risks than men, and women are more inclined to support practical measures to reduce emissions, like government subsidies to reduce the cost of electric vehicles, and the phase-out of coal-fired power generation within 10 years.
The Coalition voted against the Albanese government’s 2030 emissions reduction target of 43%, and said it wanted a debate about nuclear energy. The poll found 22% of respondents had an interest in Australia exploring nuclear, with men more likely than women to hold that view.
But the poll also suggested nuclear supporters were less worried about the risks of runaway global heating than other survey respondents. Nuclear was also the preferred technology for the cohort of survey respondents who did not believe global heating was actually happening.
The research suggested a majority of Australians would support concrete policy measures to electrify the transport, including the mandatory fuel efficiency standards, and a requirement that all new car sales in Australia be zero emissions vehicles by 2035.
Australians would also support hosting a United Nations climate conference in Australia in collaboration with Pacific nations. A delegation of Australian ministers will front the Cop27 climate conference In Egypt later this month.
Director of climate and energy for the Australia Institute, Richie Merzian, said the research showed Australians were “fed up with the mismanagement of the country’s natural resource wealth and want a windfall profits tax on the gas industry and a levy on our fossil fuel exports to help pay for climate related disasters”.
Extracted in full from: Majority of Australians back taxing fossil fuel companies’ super profits, survey shows | Climate crisis | The Guardian