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Greens remain open to flood levy but climate program cuts make no sense



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Christine Milne

Australian Senate Australian Greens Acting Leader

Contact: Tim Hollo on 0437 587 562

media release

Thursday 27 January 2011

Greens remain open to flood levy but climate program cuts make no sense

The Australian Greens remain open to the idea of a flood levy, but oppose climate program cuts and will seek discussions with the government about alternatives including deferring top end corporate tax cuts as well as establishing a long-term disaster relief fund to face up to the reality of climate change.

“Helping to rebuild shattered communities left in the wake of these devastating floods is a top priority for Australians and the Greens firmly stand behind that goal,” Australian Greens Acting Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

“But it does a disservice to all those tragically affected by these floods - and all those whose lives will be thrown into turmoil by more floods, fires, storms and droughts in years to come - to keep insisting that these are one off events and ignore the role of climate change.

“It beggars belief that the government would choose to cut climate change programs like Solar Flagships, energy efficiency and the solar hot water rebate to fund disaster relief when such disasters will be made worse by climate change.

“We must recognise that less than 1C of global warming is making these human, economic and environmental disasters a part of life this century. We need to start planning now for the reality of climate change and redouble our efforts to return to a safe climate, not cut back on that effort.

“Contrary to speculation this morning by Saul Eslake, the Greens have had no discussions with the government about the proposed flood levy as yet, but we will be seeking to start those discussions as soon as possible.

“The Greens have proposed deferring the top end corporate tax cuts planned for July 1 2013, while keeping the cuts for small business.

“This would net the government around $1.7 billion in the forward estimates, protect low income earners and small businesses and enable the government to reverse its decision to cut critical climate programs.

“While we are open to the idea of a levy, the Greens see establishing a long-term, well-resourced disaster relief fund as a high priority in the face of climate change.

“Rebuilding in the wake of a climate-related disaster presents an opportunity to make sure new infrastructure is built with climate change in mind. This means building in resilience to worse disasters to come by reviewing planning laws and building standards as well as focussing on high efficiency, low emissions options like public transport and renewable energy infrastructure.

“Public funds from this levy or elsewhere should not be spent on more coal infrastructure that will only make the situation worse for all of us.

“The Greens final position on the levy will be considered by the party room.”