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A multibillion-dollar hole has been blown in the Abbott government’s budget after the Greens revealed they will not support an increase to fuel tax.
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Greens won't support fuel excise
The fuel excise revenue raised doesn't invest in public transport or fuel efficient cars says Greens leader Christine Milne.
Greens leader Christine Milne has said her party will not vote for the measure because the government does not plan to reinvest the money in public transport or cut fuel subsidies for large mining companies.
The tax hike is now doomed to fail in the Senate with Labor, the Palmer United Party and the Greens all opposed, leaving the government with a revenue shortfall of about $2.4 billion over the next four years.
The Greens said they would vote the measure down without negotiating.
Senator Milne said in Canberra on Tuesday that her party wanted to tackle pollution but Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s tax on fuel was not an anti-pollution measure because the money would be reinvested in roads.
She said the fuel excise rise was simply a tax on families who had little or no access to public transport, while large mining companies continued to claim fuel subsidies.
“Tony Abbott in the United States told President Obama that his fuel excise would act as a carbon tax,” Senator Milne said.
“The package that ... is going to be put to the Parliament on fuel excise would see revenue raised to go purely to roads, purely to add more congestion to our cities, more pollution from vehicles, and not do a thing for public transport, for getting people to be able to drive less and when they do drive to drive more efficiently.”
Labor also foreshadowed it would oppose a range of other budget measures.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten said Labor would move amendments to remove from legislation more than a dozen proposed changes announced in the budget, including the axing of the seniors supplement, worth up to $876 a year, a freezing of payment rates for Family Tax Benefits, raising the retirement age to 70 and requiring job seekers under 30 to wait six months to become eligible for unemployment benefits.
Mr Shorten accused Mr Abbott of hiding from scrutiny by limiting debate on the piece of legislation that contains these measures to three hours.
"This will leave the House of Representatives with just three hours to debate some of the harshest changes to Australia's social security system in our history,'' Mr Shorten said.
He said the legislation contained some "responsible savings" which Labor would support. These included reducing the primary earner income limit for Family Tax Benefit B from $150,000 to $100,000, including untaxed superannuation income in eligibility assessments for the Commonwealth seniors health card, and limiting the amount of time students could spend overseas while receiving student payments.
Senator Milne denied she had been unable to convince her party room to negotiate and work with the government to find a compromise on fuel excise.
“Not at all,” she said. “I don't support the East West Link. I don't support WestConnex, I don't support the decision to dump urban rail in Perth or the Melbourne Metro.
“I don't support a position which excludes high-speed rail, for example.”
Senator Milne said the Greens could not support a policy that put money in the Abbott government’s pockets to roll out more roads while offering no alternative to change transport behaviour.
“All this is is a revenue raiser,” she said.
With Dan Harrison