Media Releases | 22nd Apr, 2013

Turning a $7.5 billion sledgehammer into a $2.5 billion surplus

Turning a $7.5 billion sledgehammer into a $2.5 billion surplus

Monday, 22 April 2013

Treasurer Wayne Swan has a clear opportunity to turn a $7.5 billion shortfall in government revenue into a $2.5 billion advantage, according to Victoria’s leading environment organisation Environment Victoria. Treasurer Swan revealed yesterday that lower terms of trade combined with a high Australian dollar has resulted in a hit to government revenues “like a sledgehammer” of about $7.5 billion since the mid-year update.

Research released by Environment Victoria and Market Forces has revealed that the federal government could save over $10 billion in the federal budget by cutting fossil fuel subsidies in 2013/141.

Environment Victoria Safe Climate Campaign Manager Victoria McKenzie-McHarg said today:

“The Treasurer has warned that the budget has taken a $7.5 billion sledgehammer hit due to the high dollar and low levels of trade. Yet here is a very clear opportunity to return the budget to surplus by cutting unfair and unsustainable handouts to big polluters”.

“The $10 billion worth of handouts to polluters are in the form of tax breaks, carbon price compensation to our dirtiest power stations, research and development handouts for international companies and cheap fuel for the mining industry subsidised by taxpayers”, she said.

“These handouts are unfair, wasteful, and create an incentive for big industry to keep using polluting fossil fuels. This budget is a golden opportunity to cut the handouts, cut pollution, and put billions of dollars back on the table for important government priorities. 

The benefits of cutting these handouts would increase in future, with $44 billion currently set to be lost to the budget due to fossil fuel subsidies between 2012/13 and 2015/16. 

“$44 billion would go a long way to supporting the sort of health and education programs Australians want to see delivered by our governments. Cutting polluter handouts could be the key to governments delivering these vital programs”, claimed Ms. McKenzie-McHarg.

Research released last week by the Australian Conservation Foundation showed that 68% of Australians agreed that the mining industry should pay the same amount of money in fuel tax as ordinary motorists.2

For comment

Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, Environment Victoria Safe Climate Campaign Manager: 0428 480 409

1. Environment Victoria and Market Forces, April 2013. Pre-budget briefing paper: An analysis of Australian government tax measures that encourage fossil fuel use. Available here >  
2. Australian Conservation Foundation, 19 April 2013. Tax the polluters not the environment, say Australians. Available here >  

Further information about the campaign is available at