Two-year carbon tax exemption not enough: BIC

Bus industry’s two-year exemption from carbon tax fails to provide price incentives for public transport, according to Bus Industry Confederation

Two-year carbon tax exemption not enough: BIC
Two-year carbon tax exemption not enough: BIC
July 10, 2011

The bus industry’s two-year exemption from the carbon tax, announced today, does not go far enough in providing price incentives for public transport, according to the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC).

Under the policy unveiled today by the Gillard Government, truck and bus operators will be exempt from the tax until July 1, 2014.

From that date the effective fuel tax paid by transport operators will increase 6.858 cents per litre, matching the planned 2014-15 carbon price of $25.40.

The industry’s effective fuel tax will then vary every six months as Australia’s carbon price changes.

Despite the exemption, BIC Executive Director Michael Apps says the policy fails to deliver price incentives to encourage public transport use and is calling on the Government to align excise charges for buses and coaches with rail – not trucks.

"A diesel train currently pays no excise on fuel, but will be subject to the 6.2 cents per litre carbon price from July 1 2012. Under the carbon price, buses should be treated in the same way," he says.

"We are not the trucking industry; we serve a different purpose which in the long run reduces carbon emissions. We are a ‘good carbon’ transport provider and need to be treated as such."

Apps says the bus industry is currently lumped in with trucks and pay 38 cents per litre in excise, which is made up of the road user charge with the remainder claimed back as a fuel tax credit.

He says buses should only be required to pay the carbon price for transport of 6.2 cents per litre carbon price and no excise.

"The Prime Minister used 45 million cars off the road as a measurement of the success of this policy in reducing carbon emissions, yet maintained the status quo for cars in relation to fuel costs," Apps says.

"The Government’s climate change plan identified car use as the highest source of household emissions and recognised the impact on household budgets of driving a car, but did nothing to encourage viable alternatives to the car.

"The bus industry is the workhorse of public, school and coach passenger services in our cities and the only form of public and school transport in most of regional Australia; it must be supported by the climate change plan.

"It makes no sense, especially in the context of the Government’s recent National Urban Policy, to avoid explicitly providing big incentives for people to make an alternative travel choice to the car.

"Buses and public transport are part of the solution to the economic cost of congestion. The environmental impact of transport-related carbon emissions and the mobility needs of our communities and the plan should recognise this by incentivising public transport use now."

"A full bus takes 40 cars off the road and getting rid of a second car can save a family more than $5,000 a year. If we get our public transport systems right and get motorists using them, there are clear emissions reductions and economic benefits."

Apps adds that further to price incentives, polling by Auspoll in late June showed 72 percent of Australians want to see some of the revenue from the carbon tax invested in public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure.

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