More Australians support ending fossil fuel subsidies to raise revenue in this year’s federal budget than any other measure, according to a new poll released today.
A national poll of 2,664 Australians conducted by ReachTEL on Monday night (11 April) found that the majority of Australians want the funds spent on health (27.5 per cent of respondents) and growing renewable energy (26.3 per cent), instead of propping up polluting industries.
The Government currently spends over $7.7 billion annually on subsidies to support fossil fuel production and consumption, which leads to an increase in carbon pollution.
The poll found 58.9 per cent of respondents (excluding undecided) think the Government spends too much on fossil fuel subsidies.
Respondents were most strongly opposed to subsidising the production costs of oil and gas companies (net 71.9 per cent), fuel costs of mining companies (net 69.75 per cent), and opposed (net 53.76 per cent) to subsidising fuel cost of airlines.
There was strong support however for providing fuel subsidies to farmers (net 90.68 per cent), showing that Australians differentiate between budget priorities.
With the Federal Budget looming in early May, the poll clearly shows that Australians believe the Government should act to cut fossil fuel subsidies.
Ending fossil fuels subsidies was ranked first (36.4 per cent) as the preferred revenue raising measure ahead of reducing negative gearing benefits (19.3 per cent), raising the GST (17.8 per cent), increasing tax on capital gains (14.1 per cent), and tightening tax concessions on superannuation (12.3 per cent).
When given seven options on where money raised from ending fossil fuel subsidies should be spent, health ranked first (27.5 per cent), followed closely by growing renewable energy (26.3 per cent), then education (15.1 per cent), and budget repair (13.5 per cent).
The poll was commissioned by WWF-Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Get Up and 350.org.
The groups today called on the Federal Government to:
Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said:
“The Government continues to handout more than $2 billion to the mining industry every year in subsidised fuel. Fuel subsidies hold back Australian progress on climate change and stifle innovation. If Australia is to sign the Paris agreement to limit global temperature increases to well below 2°C it must address subsidies that make the choice to pollute more attractive than clean alternatives. Less money handed to mining companies for cheap fuel means more money for national priorities in health, education and the environment that benefit all Australians.”
WWF-Australia’s National Manager for Climate Change, Kellie Caught said:
“We have a budget crisis and a global warming crisis but none of the major parties have put the obvious solution on the table. The poll clearly shows our political leaders are out of step with common sense view of Australians, who don’t want their tax payers dollars being spent propping up fossil fuels and would rather see it spent on growing clean renewable energy and health. Burning fossil fuels is the biggest cause of global warming responsible for the underwater heat wave currently devastating our Great Barrier Reef. Ending fossil fuel subsidies is good for the budget and for the environment."
Get Up’s Environmental Justice Campaigns Director Sam Regester said:
"This Government is ruling for a handful of big corporations instead of for everyday Australians. These billions in handouts represent the disproportionate power fossil fuel companies have over our democracy. These nonsensical subsidies represent unbuilt hospitals, unfunded schools, and runaway climate change. If Malcolm Turnbull really wants to be seen as the Innovation Prime Minister and not a lackey for big business, he can start by redirecting these billions to things we actually need."
Public Health Association of Australia CEO Michael Moore said:
“The major political parties really need to look at their priorities. This poll provides clear evidence that people value expenditure on health way beyond the financial support that is currently subsidising the fossil fuel industry. We will be able to “live within our means” and still spend appropriately on health if money is not wasted on this sort of industry. Priority one within health should be expenditure on prevention, protection and promotion.”
350 Australia’s Campaigns Director Charlie Wood said:
“To have a liveable planet, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground. But instead our politicians are doling out billions of taxpayers dollars in hand-outs to coal and gas companies. In fact, for every dollar that fossil fuel companies have given to the major parties since the last election, this year they’ll receive $2000 back in the form of fossil fuel subsidies. This polling indicates that the Government is increasingly out of step with the community. Australians want action on climate change. They want governments to stop giving our hard-earned money to the dirty energy industry and instead invest in clean energy solutions for all.”
 Net is those respondents who had an opinion (ie. excluding undecided)