The Australian Greens have back-flipped on the Federal Government’s proposed fuel excise increases, saying they now plan to vote against the move in the Senate.
In the 2014/15 federal budget, Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the government’s plans to re-introduce biannual fuel excise rises for the first time since rates were frozen by then Prime Minister John Howard in 2001.
But after initially signalling their support for the fuel excise plan, the Greens have this week announced that they will vote against the legislation in the Senate, effectively defeating it until the make-up of the senate changes after July.
While the Federal Government planned to link the additional revenue to road projects by law, it’s understood the Greens would only support the excise rises if every cent was directed towards public transport projects.
"[The Federal Government] are not going to get a big hit on families who have no alternative with public transport, no alternative with fuel efficient vehicles, just a revenue raiser to build the roads that people don't want," Greens Senator, Christine Milne, said.
"We want to see people using less polluting fuels, but what we will see if we facilitate this is $45 billion going into roads.”
The government will now be forced to negotiate with the minor parties in the Senate after July in order to pass the fuel excise legislation (and others), but their support is far from guaranteed.
If the fuel excise changes don’t pass the upper house, the black hole in the federal budget could be as much as $2.3 billion.
In the lead-up to the winter parliamentary recess, the Federal Government will likely push as much legislation through the lower house as possible before the end of the week.