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Greens-Nationals carbon sink forests move stymied by Labor and Liberals.



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Christine Milne

Australian Senate Australian Greens Senator for Tasmania

Contact: Tim Hollo on 0437 587 562

media release

Canberra, Monday 1 December 2008

Greens-Nationals carbon sink forests move stymied by Labor and Liberals

An Australian Greens' motion to disallow another forestry tax rort today won the support of the Nationals, who crossed the floor, and Senator Xenophon. However, the Liberal and Labor Parties joined forces to quash the motion, with Senator Heffernan refusing to cross the floor.

This attempt to protect the environment and social fabric of regional Australia is the result of many months of work by Senator Milne, working with the Nationals and others. A timeline is attached below.

“This managed investment scheme on steroids is a disaster for rural and regional Australia,” said Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne.

“What we have here is the plantation industry wanting yet another major handout from the public purse, along with the coal and aviation sectors looking for a cheap way to avoid reducing their greenhouse emissions at source.

“It is utterly wrong to describe this as a carbon sink forest scheme when it is not guaranteed to be a permanent carbon sink, nor is it a real forest when it can be a monoculture plantation.

“The law gives investors an up-front 100% tax deduction on their costs in relation to establishing a plantation with no requirement that the trees be kept in the ground. There is nothing to stop a company declaring its intention to establish a carbon sink forest, claiming the tax deduction for their establishment costs, and then on-selling the land, allowing the trees to be cut down or die.

“Contrary to what the Government has been telling stakeholders, legal advice I have obtained tells me that the full value of the purchase of land for these plantations will be tax deductible. This will dramatically increase the incentives for the scheme, making what was supposed to be a small change into a huge impact.

“This law will not, as the government claims, result in native vegetation being established in marginal areas. These trees will be established on prime agricultural land, buying up water rights, driving more families off the land and diverting land and water from food production. Investors will have the option of using the plantations for fibre production or carbon credits, depending on which price is higher at the time.

“Regional communities have already been destroyed by plantation companies taking advantage of the tax benefits of Managed Investment Schemes, buying off family farms which do not receive the same preferential tax treatment. As families are driven away, communities lose schools, doctors, local processing and postal runs.

“This bad law must be removed, Senator Nash should be congratulated for her stand in support of my motion, and I will continue my efforts through each Tax Law Amendment Bill that comes forward to ensure that it is."

Christine Milne

Australian Senate Australian Greens Senator for Tasmania

Contact: Tim Hollo on 0437 587 562

media release

Notes

2007  • Bill introduced by Treasurer Costello in May 2007 Budget. Passed Reps.  Came before the Senate on last day of sittings before election. Senator Milne  objects and predicts “rural revolt”. Bill deemed non‐essential and held over. 

2008  • Tax Laws Amendment Bill 1 re‐instated post election and marked for debate  by the Greens. 

• Treasurer Swan reintroduces measure in Tax Laws Amendment Bill 2, which  is marked as “non‐controversial”. Same measure is now in two bills, Tax  Laws Amendment Bills 1 and 2. Government whips do not inform The  Greens of this duplication. 

• Senator Milne watches for and picks up on first bill but, in the meantime  second bill passes as “non‐controversial”. 

• Senator Milne draws the attention of opposition members, who have Senate  majority, to the contents of the bill. 

Tuesday 24 June  • Greens, Nationals, Senator Heffernan condemn carbon sink measure in the  Senate. Bill held over. 

Wednesday 25 June  • Senator Milne puts amendment to rescind first bill. 

Thursday 26 June  • Opposition propose inquiry and oppose Milne recision amendment as well  as Greens amendments to ensure carbon sink trees cannot be cut down or  burnt but must be kept in the ground at least 100 years. 

Tuesday 23 September  • Senate Inquiry Report tabled, with Greens, Nationals and Liberals tabling  dissenting report written by Senator Milne against Labor majority report. 

Monday 1 December  • Senator Milne moves disallowance motion.