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Thursday, 16 December 1993
Page: 4800


Senator WOODLEY (11.47 a.m.) —For many years now the diesel fuel rebate has been indexed twice a year, in February and August, or with each new excise increase. Under the arrangement proposed by this legislation, while the excise rate will continue to be indexed six-monthly in February and August, the rebate will be indexed only once a year. As it is, the system whereby the price of fuel will go up twice a year but the rebate will go up only once sounds bad enough; but, worse still, the government is attempting a sleight of hand, the finer detail of which has been missed by many.

  If honourable senators look closely at the wording of clauses 7 and 19, they will see that these clauses increase the rebate payable to a level that reflects the excise rate which applied immediately before the new rebate period. In lay terms, that means that the increases on the rebate paid to claimants will always be roughly a year behind the excise increases. The rebate will be indexed at the end of January or in early February each year, but the excise rate will be increased immediately after that and then again six months later. This indexation system is clearly unfair, and we oppose it. It is my belief that the change to the rebate scheme is one of a number of inequitable measures the government is putting up, across various portfolios, in an attempt to fund its irresponsible tax cuts.