Monday, 3 May 2010

Greens will move in Senate for sensible sovereign fund to invest in our future

The Greens will move in the Senate for a sensible sovereign fund from the resource tax to invest in Australia's people and environment.

The Greens are examining a raft of sidelined recommendations from the Henry Review to pursue in the Senate, including increasing income support for students and the unemployed, removing the Fringe Benefit Tax concession which currently encourages company car use, and introducing road congestion taxes to fund public transport.

"The Greens have long advocated a resource tax, and we will work in the Senate to make sure it is invested in Australia's future, not our past," said Australian Greens Acting Leader, Senator Christine Milne.

"The sensible thing to do would be to invest the revenue in training and education for jobs of the future, in income support for students and the unemployed, in building the public transport and renewable energy infrastructure we need to wean ourselves off our fossil fuel addiction.

"We will be looking in particular for increases in income support for students and the unemployed in next week's Budget.

"The government's approach would lock in a 19th century focus on digging up and exporting as much coal as we possibly can. That is no plan for the 21st century.

"I look forward to working with the government to turn this into a real plan for the future, investing in our people and our sun, wave, wind and soil."

The Greens already have legislation before the Senate to implement one of Ken Henry's recommendations - removing the incentive to drive more through the Fringe Benefits Tax concession for company cars.

"We will be raising this very sensible policy again with the government, as well as pursuing other Henry recommendations for reducing our reliance on petrol in an age of climate change and peak oil.

"This review was an opportunity to re-design our cities for people rather than cars, investing funds from a congestion tax in fast, convenient and safe public transport.

"This would also have been a perfect opportunity to remove the billions of dollars of subsidies that go to fossil fuel companies every year through fuel tax credits.

"The huge trucks that operate in open cut mines pay virtually no tax on the fuel they use to dig up more polluting fuels, while ordinary Australians pay tax on the fuel they use to get to work, to get the groceries and to take the kids to school because there are few decent alternatives.

"We need to move our tax system over to taxing bads and rewarding goods, taxing waste and pollution and investing in our people and our environment.

"That would be real reform and the Greens will pursue it in the Senate and in the community."

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