The Federal Government could save $5.2bn in the coming financial year alone by reforming subsidies and tax breaks that encourage pollution, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

ACF’s Federal Budget submission calls on the Government to reform the Fuel Tax Credit scheme, repeal tax breaks for oil and gas assets, abolish aviation fuel concessions and invest in initiatives to protect Australians’ livelihoods and quality of life for the future.

The submission calls for greater federal support for Indigenous Rangers and threatened species and a new fund to re-connect protected areas through conservation corridors.

“Budgets reveal what governments really value,” said ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

“The last Federal Budget was widely seen as unfair and unwise, cutting funding for science and the environment and unravelling an economically sensible scheme that was cutting pollution.

“With this next Budget, the Government has a choice: will it keep letting Australia’s biggest polluting companies call the shots, or start listening to the Australian people?

“For a Government that desperately needs to find some Budget savings, cutting unfair handouts that encourage pollution should be a no-brainer.

“The most notorious of these subsidies is the Fuel Tax Credit scheme, which allows companies like BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto to pay virtually no tax on the diesel they use, while car drivers and small businesses are taxed 39c on every litre of fuel they buy.”

Figures released in December’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) show that of the $4.2 billion extra the Government will raise through the indexation of fuel excise, $1.9 billion will be refunded to eligible businesses via the Fuel Tax Credit scheme.

“On the spending side, there is an urgent need for more investment to protect natural systems that are essential to Australians’ livelihoods and quality of life, such as water catchments, and safeguard loved species and places of cultural and social significance.”

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910 or Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@acf.org.au.