New research by the Australian Conservation Foundation reveals the five companies that are the biggest coal industry recipients of taxpayer-subsidised diesel via the notorious Fuel Tax Credits scheme and shows simple changes to the scheme would save $15bn over four years.
By matching production figures published by the mining companies against Australian Tax Office data about Fuel Tax Credits given to the coal sector, ACF’s research finds five companies – Glencore Xstrata, BHP Billiton, Peabody, Rio Tinto and Anglo American – take around $366 million a year from the taxpayer to subsidise the diesel used in their coal mining operations.
“Australia’s largest coal mining companies are having their fuel subsidised by the taxpayer while they mine a highly polluting substance that is damaging the climate,” said ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.
“Australia’s current Federal Budget allocates more to fuel subsidies than to overseas aid.
“If the Government wants to create a fairer budget this year, it should reform this subsidy which encourages pollution and adds to the profits of already profitable private companies.
“ACF proposes a $20,000 cap per claimant, so those making small claims, like farmers, would not be adversely affected.
“Legal advice provided to ACF by Environmental Justice Australia shows legislative reform of the Fuel Tax Credits Scheme would be relatively straightforward.
“Changing the scheme would save the budget $15 billion over the forward estimates.
“Australian taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars should be used to build a better life for all of us, not to add to the bottom lines of multinational coal companies,” she said.
One of the five companies, Rio Tinto, also featured in ACF’s report on Australia’s Top 10 Climate Polluters, released last month, which examined the 10 companies that are responsible for nearly one third of Australia’s greenhouse pollution.