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Democrats' Diesel Double-Talk

The Democrats have already conceded a massive subsidy for diesel users, benefiting mining, transport and logging corporations but penalising ordinary Australians with huge health and environmental costs, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.

Senator Brown described Senator Lees" assurances on the environment as "double-talk".

"On the one hand she says "diesel fuel is not negotiable" (Sunday, Ch.9, today), but on the other says "absolutely everything we took to the election is on the table!

"As with food, the major sell-out on Democrats" tax policy ensuring "ecological sustainability" has already occurred. First she conceded prepared food. Now Senator Lees has conceded a $1 billion diesel subsidy on top of the government"s existing $1.5 billion subsidy. Unlike the existing subsidy, which is for off-road use, the Democrats" $1 billion will benefit heavy on-road transport including woodchip trucks and mining B-doubles, as well as mining rail transport.

In April, Senator Allison demanded an assurance of the Howard Government in the Senate (Hansard, p.4146) that "the government will do nothing to encourage any increase in diesel use in this country". Now she enters discussions with the Environment Minister Robert Hill, having already agreed to a $1 billion rebate. She is not negotiating for the environment but on how to hold the line on a polluting package in breach of her party"s own tax policy.

"Senator Hill, the master of greenwash, will beguile Senator Allison with a set of green beads to put around this redneck package", Senator Brown said.

The other hidden deal is against community groups. The Democrats have already acceded to a package which will add a new tax to non-profit organisations wherever their activities are seen to compete with private enterprise.

"This will hit charitable and community groups hard", Senator Brown said.

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