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Nationals Senator supports Democrats and opposes plan to abolish tax advantage for biodiesel.

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Fri day 23 June 2006

Nationals Senator supports Democrats and opposes plan to abolish tax advantage for biodiesel


TONY EASTLEY: Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce has again sp lit from the Government, this time over tax on biofuels. 


His decision to back Democrats' amendments was in the end futile, because Labor and the Coalition combined to pass the legislation. 


But Senator Joyce and the Democrats claim the Government's legislation will cripple the renewable fuel industry. 


As Louise Yaxley reports, this latest sign of Coalition disunity came during a late night session before Parliament wound up for its winter break. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: It's been a budget session marked by Coalition disunity, most notably on the migration legislation. 


The Nationals Barnaby Joyce is one of those who's forced that bill to be delayed. 


Last night he rebelled again, this time over tax for biodiesel, a fuel made from vegetable oils. 


He and the Democrats oppose a Government plan to scrap a tax advantage for biodiesel. 


At one stage, Barnaby Joyce told the Senate it looked like big oil companies are driving the Government's policy. 


BARNABY JOYCE: I would suggest that there's been some strong lobbying by the major oil companies to determine what that standard is, because, in essence, they're still getting a form of double dipping. 


SENATOR: No, Senator Joyce, that's not correct. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: Senator Joyce condemned the Opposition when it revealed that it would vote with the Government, meaning his voice was no longer needed for the bill to pass. 


BARNABY JOYCE: You've personally let me off the hook, because now the bill's going to go through. I mean, apart from the theatrics of us crossing the floor, the pressure's off me, the bill goes through, go to the Lower House, it's going to happen. 


Unfortunately, the nightmare's just begun for the people who have their houses on the line over this piece of legislation. The nightmare just starts for them. 


For those people in the poorest electorates in our nation, the issue has just started for them. 


Maybe you should have ... have a think about that in your next caucus meeting, about who is actually the afflicted here and who you went in to bat for, which side of the debate you went in to bat for tonight. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: Senator Joyce intended to cross the floor regardless, but missed his chance. 


BARBABY JOYCE: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Could I be reported as - I just went to the bathroom after that - and could I be reported as an aye to the Democrats' amendment please, on the record? 


PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Yes, that can be done, Senator Joyce.  


BARNABY JOYCE: Thank you. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: In a sign that his Government colleagues are frustrated with the outspoken senator, some on the Coalition side received a text message soon after that saying: "Bathroom Barnaby flushes his vote."  


Democrats leader Lyn Allison says it's the renewable fuel industry that's down the toilet. 


And Senator Joyce says the Government's move will harm small towns that have adopted the biofuels industry. 


BARNABY JOYCE: This is a great industry. It was, finally there was something that could actually pick those small towns up. And without a huge amount of capital investment it could have a strong connection into that whole community environment. 


There was a bit of a sense of hope with it. It was just a little glimmer, a little glimmer of something that actually might work. 


And we knew and they knew in the long-term it had to become viable like everything else, but they just weren't prepared for the lights to be turned off halfway through the show. 


And that's what's happened in this. Halfway through the show they've gone click, it's all over. 


And that's ... that's just unfair. That's just unfair. 


TONY EASTLEY: Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce, ending that report from Louise Yaxley.