Skip to content

Excising some common sense on the fuel excise debate

August 18, 2014

18 August 2014

You wouldn’t think a 1c per litre rise in petrol would create such pandemonium. It does in hyper partisan and self-absorbed Australia to the point that if this were WWE wrestling, Hulk Hogan just ran through a bunch of kids at an orphanage and leg-dropped Mother Teresa because she gave him C-size batteries, not D, for his personal tanning light.

First, Treasurer Joe Hockey’s words. The people that actually pay the most are higher income people with an increase in fuel excise… The poorest people either don’t have cars or actually don’t drive very far in many cases.

Based on the Australian Bureau of statistics he cited, that’s true. The wealthiest 20% spend $53.87 per week on fuel compared to $16.36 of the poorest 20%. That’s mostly because the wealthy have bigger cars, and more of them “per household”, of which the statistic is based. Whether the poorest drive shorter distances, that’s more speculative.

Of course, as a percentage of income, the poorer would pay more. Then they already do that on all such consumption taxes like the GST and the recently repealed carbon tax. None of these taxes can ever hurt the rich, so they are all inherently regressive, or “unfair”. Then that’s where the progressive, or “fairer”, income tax comes in, along with the oodles of tax rebates. Most of the poor effectively pay no income tax and are therefore well compensated for the regressive taxes.

It is interesting to note that this so-called poorest 20% even own cars in the first place. Go to India, Africa or Latin America and learn the true definition of poor. Australia’s poorest all have cars, mobile phones, big screen TVs and air-conditioners. I personally grew up in a family with no TV at times, a 34cm TV the rest of the time, no car for a good proportion of the time, and no air-conditioner, and never regarded myself as poor. Compared to even just 50 years ago, the poor of today are better off than the mega wealthy of then. Even against the rest of the world right now, all Australians would be in the wealthiest 5%. We’ve really lost the plot.

The real controversy is the Liberals’ insanity with justifying their policies. They know that to be financially responsible often means to be meaner, and inherent in their DNA is an inability to defend their policies. They’ll also never win a battle with Labor on class or fairness, because whatever the Liberals offer, Labor will just one-up them. The Liberals were already suckered into it with the debt levy on the wealthy as a means of “fairness” against the $7 co-pay on doctors. All that did was break an election promise of no new taxes. Now Hockey with this, about reintroducing indexing by CPI on the fuel excise that has seen the Liberals look out of touch and made them easy bait for Labor. All this over 1c per litre, or 50c per week for the average tank full of petrol.

The way around it is explaining policy according to your core beliefs. It should be easy when the core difference between the two major parties is that Labor want to make people equal whereas Liberal want to treat people equally. For instance, stopping illegal boat arrivals is about giving the most needy and already declared refugees priority to the nation’s refugee quota rather than to the 1% wealthy mostly “economic migrants” that can afford to pay smugglers. On the 18C Discrimination Act, it wasn’t about “the right to be a bigot”, it was about the right of not being sued as one, just because someone chose to take offence at something you said.

Indexing fuel excise is simply restoring a natural state that the previous Liberal Prime Minister John Howard removed in a fit of panic in the early 90s, and is in line with similar forms of taxes, and therefore treats everyone equally. Most Labor members would actually agree with it, as too did the Greens, until their political bigotry saw them betray their conscience of higher taxes on fossil fuels on the flimsy excuse the revenue would mean more roads and therefore more cars. No, more and better roads eases congestion, therefore cutting emissions. If a rise in excise would cause such a problem, then why not remove the excise all together? If not for this rampant act of stupidity of such a rabid, insincere bunch, the policy would have long passed. Just as a certain  form of tax on other CO2 emissions would be in place…

What of the retort about poorer people living in outer suburbs or rural areas so would drive more? Reality is that that’s the trade-off for some major financial benefits elsewhere. Ultra cheap housing and lower taxes like council rates – no complaints there, right? If all that driving is not to your liking, move closer to the city then maybe a car is hardly needed at all, or instead of a two-car family you become one. Of course, prepare to pay more for housing, be more crowded and live in a smaller dwelling. These are the decisions that form the lifestyle equation that thankfully we can all still equally make today.


From → Politics

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: