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Stop the Democrat's sell-out.

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Bob Brown

Australian Senate

Australian Greens Senator for Tasmania


Friday, 21 May 1999


Stop the Democrats’ sell-out


Dear fellow environmentalist,


I urge you to take action to stop the Democrats GST bargaining with the Howard Government. Even if they make no further concessions, the Democrats’ package would cause huge damage to the environment.


Here are some factors:

a)  The Democrats are offering a $1 billion annual subsidy to diesel fuel consumption.

b)  This is on top of the $1.5 billion annual su bsidy already in place. Total $2.5 billion per annum! This is money directed away from health, education and other social services.

c)  The additional $1 billion per annum to promote consumption of diesel compares with $36 million per annum for the Government’s Greenhouse initiatives.

d)  Burning diesel produces carcinogens. This will add to the present Australian death rate from such toxins of 1000 people each year.

e)  Up to $700 million of the Democrats subsidy will go to the mining corporations includin g BHP, WMC, North and Boral.

f)  woodchippers will get a $1 per tonne subsidy for trucking destroyed forest to the woodchip mills.

g)  North Pty Ltd will be far short of the biggest winner: but it will gain $3 million per annum for carting Tasmanian wild forests, including rainforests, to destruction. North will get a smaller premium for trucking uranium from its Ranger and Jabiluka mines.

h)  The health costs of the Democrats package may be $100 million per annum.

i)  No subsidy will go to solar or wind po wer.

j)  Because the Democrats offer will give power utilities using diesel generation a $52 million gift, there will be a crippling competitive disadvantage for solar, wind and energy efficiency.

k)  The package threatens to kill Australia’s potential as a world leader in alternative power production, especially solar power.

l)  If the GST is introduced, it will block ecological tax reform for a decade. And environment groups will have to fight every budget to stop further expansion of the diesel subsidy.

m)  The Democrats are reneging on their election commitment to keep food GST-free, now promoting the GST on prepared foods from cooked breakfasts to sandwiches, rolls and pies — increasingly part of poorer Australians’ consumption patterns.

n)  The package will hit NGO’s and community groups - for example, wilderness shops and membership fess will be GST’d. Groups will face greatly increased bookkeeping and auditing obligations and costs.


But the core damage of the Democrats plan is the $1 billion rebate f or the burning of diesel fuel, in particular to the miners and woodchippers. This is unconscionable in an age where the Greens, like many European governments, are advocating taxes on pollution especially burning of fossil fuels such as diesel, and incentives for clean alternatives. The Australian Greens’ modest carbon tax proposal for example would boost jobs by promoting solar power and enabling payroll taxes to be abolished.


In the Senate I will take the Democrats anti-environmental package head-

on. But the best chance of averting its damaging effects lies with you and community action.


Urgent action is essential. If the Democrats join Labor, the Greens and Senator Harradine, the GST package will be defeated in the Senate.


Please debate the issue in your group. Lobby your local MP, especially Democrats. Call talkback radio. Write to your newspaper. Join an environment group or the Greens. Go into action knowing there are excellent, environmentally-sound tax alternatives for Australia.


Yours Sincerely


(Bob Brown)


CC: Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley

Opposition Environment Spokesperson, Senator Nick Bolkus

Bob Brown