Greens do deal on luxury car tax – but change still blocked in Senate

While it won’t be enough to get the measure through the Senate, it’s good to see the Greens negotiate a reasonable agreement with the federal government regarding the planned tax increase on higher priced cars. (UPDATE 4/9 – The legislation was voted down in the Senate this morning without any opporutnity for amendments to be moved, when the Family First Senator voted with the Coalition).

Under the Greens’ agreement, cars under $75 000 which are considered fuel-efficient (defined as using less than seven litres of petrol per 100 kilometres) would have been exempt from the tax hike, which kicks in for all other cars at $57 000.

This seems like a good idea to me. However, I do have to say the hyperbole alarm went off reading this comment from Green Senator Christine Milne:

“This is the first time I have known of where a Government has actually been prepared to look at a tax as anything other than revenue raising and actually drive a behavioural outcome, particularly in relation to the environment”

This seems rather overstated, to put it mildly, given the long-standing practice of using tax to drive behavioural changes on alcohol and cigarettes.  In the environmental area, there have been examples of sales tax exemptions and the like over many years justified on environmental grounds.  I can recall the Democrats negotiating a sales tax exemption on recycled paper which lasted for while in the early 1990s, to give just one example. There have been tax and excise exemptions in the area of ethanol and alternative fuels at various times, some of which still exist at present, which have been justified at least in part on environmental grounds.

I’m not convinced every one of those exemptions have actually been environmentally beneficial, particularly when it comes to at least some parts of the biofuels area. But that doesn’t mean they’re a bad idea, just that all the possible knock on consequences of the market adapting to the use of a particular criterion to give a tax exemption need to be closely considered.

However, this latest exemption would have been unlikely to cause any unintended harm. It may well have not made that much positive impact either, but getting acceptance of the principle of using price signals to encourage more fuel efficient cars is a worthwhile thing in its own right.  The price signal of being able to drive your car more cheaply if it a fuel efficient one is a more economic efficient one than tinkering with tax exemptions, but presumably such factors matter less to people who are prepared to pay $60 000 or so for a new car.

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  1. I have been to a few Internet sites that have conversion technology to low use fuel approaches,in Australia,and I think these people need some sort of encouragement,as well as DIY. I mean to say should this be a consumer choice matter with an affirmative end set by government,or a skill accumulation or educational process.I am not jealous of people with their prestigious cars,just miffed the prestigious reality comes with a price tag,I cannot even contemplate setting out to do. And how boring is it going to get,if we cannot have all the various models that have gone up and down our roads,because no-one thought up a way to cleverly arrange taxes for conversion!? Me I always wanted a mini-moke,less than a P.M. vote, since then My eye has caught other cars& models,but a mini-moke seem to be me at the time,& I had already written a song for myself in one. Even though I enjoyed the pushbike immensely.So sad as it is for me,they do not represent me well on this matter,and no mini-mokes are forthcoming with my pay packet.There was always wanting a bloody ute too.Less guilty about that,a turbo-charged diesel would go down fine.My dreams were shattered about mini-mokes,have a poke, when I was hitch-hiking in the Northern Victoria near the Hattah,I think,National Park,& this young woman in a mini-moke didn’t quite understand the look on my face,and drove on.A dead emu!

  2. Andrew Bartlett: Given your experience in politics, I’d accept you may have a finely tuned “hyperbole alarm” (no slur intended).

    “This seems rather overstated, to put it mildly, given the long-standing practice of using tax to drive behavioural changes on alcohol and cigarettes”

    Well, I am not so sure. For all the tax hikes on alcohol & tobacco (and let’s throw in speed camera fines to boot), how much of it is really intended to “drive a behavioural outcome” as opposed to drive revenue, albeit with a supporting argument that behaviour will be affected?

    Surely from a Green (and PM Rudd ALP) perspective, it would be appropriate to encourage (by tax relief) the use of low cost, low fuel consumption vehicles, and further, to lead by example by mandating the use of such vehicles throughout the public service, politicians included.

    Can anyone offer an argument against this?

    No foreknowledge of what your answer will be, but as an environmentally aware ex senator for the Australian Democrats, what vehicles did you & your family use whilst you were a senator, and what vehicles do you & your family now use?

  3. The greatest disincentive to do with vehicles is the absurd relationship between business kilometres travelled and rates of FBT. In that to be charged the lower rate for FBT you have to do 25,000 km.

    So you have a “green car’ policy directly contrary to taxation policy. Trying to explain to our 250 odd staff who are drivers that they have to get their K’s up or we will be hit with FBT bills and that we have to minimise our environmental footprint with a straight face is a challenge.

    Did the democrats ever look at this one?

  4. KEN:

    You’ll go mad trying to figure it out.

    (Its the same as the case of the Doctor doing house calls in Dalby,
    Yes great for the community, great for the elderley and sick, important these days). Because he did long miles and had a 4 wd (to get to the locations) and airconditioning his vehicle was subject to luxury car tax.
    Sickening but true.

    Just accept that its all about revenue and nothing to do with the environment. Then have a look at the new ETS system.
    (good for the environment or just another revenue stream ?)


  5. GZG – encouraging low cost, low fuel consumption cars via tax means is what the Green amendment is aimed towards, although it would only have a marginal impact I suspect. And whilst I’m all for governments (and corporations) with sizeable car fleets giving strong consideration to using such cars, I’m wary of mandating it which can have counter-prouctive consequences. As for your other question, mine is a one car family – the last car I had while in office was a Prius, which I bought when I left office and still have.

    However, it should be stated that – from an environmental perspective anyway – we really need to be focusing just as much on reducing car usage wherever possible, rather than just getting more fuel efficient cars and continuing to drive them as often as before (or even drive them more, which is what can happen when people switch to a more fuel efficient because they can drive further on without spending more on petrol). I rarely use my car – 90% of my travel would be public transport. I’m not trying to bignote myself – I know its not possible for many people to regularly use public transport. Just saying its about more than fuel efficiency.

    Ken – yes that FBT rule is just crazy, esp when use of public transport is also not able to be claimed in the same way. The Democrats spoke out about it a number of times. I remember moving an amendment relating to FBT and cars a number of years ago which was sneeringly dismissed by Rod Kemp when he was Assistant Treasurer – sneering being one of his real fortes. There was never really a good Senate leverage opportunity again on tax matters after the GST in 1999 – if the full potential of that negotiating opportunity had been taken, then perhaps it could have been addressed back then. Unfortunately, most Democrat Senators didn’t even stick to their own pledge to exempt public transport from the GST, let alone push the government harder to lock in environmentally positive tax changes while the opportunity existed

  6. Andrew,

    When I was in the Democrats I was dead against the GST that was the main reason I left the party. I agree though with you at the time if there was going to be some progressive taxation moves they should have been done then. Unfortunatly Meg Lees and others didnt pursue it?

  7. Albert Ross says a lot of it for me. Many felt Fielding compared favourably to Nick Xenophon, but the latter is centrist and not brain dead like the former. Chalk and cheese.
    I actually thought Fielding might have promise after some of his speeches during the dying days of the Howard government. But not after this irresponsible nonsense.

  8. Yes, I cannot say I am too impressed with Steve Fielding or Family First. But I think we all knew they gave preferences to Liberals at the last election, which is why I put their candidate near the bottom of the voting order.

    They clearly belong to the religious upper middle class who have forgotten that “a camel will go through the eye of a needle before a rich man goes to heaven”.


    This is the only argument I can offer in relation to the use of appropriate cars.

    Until solar powered vehicles are widely manufactured, and everyone has a plethora of solar panels attached to the rooves and possibly also the walls of their houses, we cannot expect the government to purchase large fleets of what isn’t even available.

    Normally when new things are manufactured (no matter what their type – microwave ovens come to mind immediately), it is quite a long time before they become relatively affordable.

    Where I live, the local council began downsizing most of its vehicles years ago. I think it’s fairly progressive.

  9. Appropriate cars for use for Federal Politicians for example (and states could follow suit).Why do they need large cars for when at the most they might carry 2-3 passengers, sometimes? How far do they drive on sole excursions? Around Canberra; to the airport? Do they need 6 cylinder cars? I don’t think so. Why not 4 cylinder diesel vehicles? Or a Prius? Is it the luxury effect, comfort of drivers, luggage room or what?How frequently do they renew the fleet? After 2 or 3 years? Why not start when next they need replacing. Would send a real message to the public as well. Do as we do, not just as we say!
    Each time I see the top of Parliament House these days, I conjure up a vision of it covered in solar panels. Looks pretty good to me.Countries in other parts of the world are doing it. London for example. The panels are much thinner these days, and are not as costly. Sadly, the Aus/Chinese who helped design them at UNSW(I think) was forced to go to China to manufacture them, due to Howard govt’s lack of interest in financial support for renewable energy.Ironic isn’t it? We sell China our coal, but they support making these solar panels?

    Stephen Fielding was elected on about 2500 votes. His party got .13% of the total Victorian vote in the Senate. There’s something wrong with the electoral system, when someone in this position can prevent a popularly elected govt from having its legislation passed in the Senate. How many farmers, tourism people “doing it tough” can afford a luxury 4 wheel drive? I think there’s quite a few to choose from, less costly than $59,000. As to the so-called damage to the car industry, how many BMW’s/Ferraris/Audi’s, Humvees(SUV’s – who needs one of those?) etc are built in Australia. A decent journalist would have asked him these questions, but sadly, I didn’t hear one – not one, on either TV, radio or the print media! I think the wealthy car manufacturers got their Coalition mates to do the business! We got the spin and BS – as usual!

  10. Naomi Cartledge:

    Stephen Fielding was elected on about 2500 votes. His party got .13% of the total Victorian vote in the Senate.

    I think your numbers are wrong.

    Can you tell me how you came up with Fielding getting 0.13% of the vote (presumably you are equating this with 2,500 people voting for him).

    “There’s something wrong with the electoral system, when someone in this position can prevent a popularly elected govt from having its legislation passed in the Senate

    As a poster eloquently put it on another site:

    Those absolutely horrid checks and balances. Horrid I say.”

  11. Naomi:

    Don’t worry. At this rate, the Chinese may come to take EVERYTHING soon enough.

    We might as well abolish the Senate if we all had your particular view.

  12. GZG – “Can you tell me how you came up with Fielding getting 0.13% of the vote (presumably you are equating this with 2,500 people voting for him).” I read it in The Herald Sun,yesterday. I also took note of the comment,that while he uses the royal “we” there’s only himself in parliament(anywhere in the country). The rest of my comment stated,that with such a small percentage of votes, he stopped legislation of the govt, just elected -which he did!
    At least the Greens put forward amendment/s, which I agree with.
    LORIKEET – “We might as well abolish the Senate if we all had your particular view.” That people in parliament should reflect the views of the people? God forbid that should ever happen?
    I think you’ll find, that more than 0.13 % of people agreed with the tax on luxury cars over $54,000(amended to over $59,000)? I’ve kept an eye on ads for 4 wheel drives, and you can purchase a good quality one for less than $30,000 – another $29,000 should purchase more grunt,bells & whistles. It’s utter rubbish what Fielding said, but as I mentioned before, I blame the ’soft’ journalists in this country!

    ” At this rate, the Chinese may come to take EVERYTHING soon enough.” Looked for summer clothes made here?Maybe in chn’s specialty stores, or Grace Bros etc;can’t even buy fabrics made here – haven’t for yrs.Whose fault is that LORIKEET? Mine too I suppose? Who wants a ‘free trade’ agreement with China?Who drew up the one with US?Guess what we get?All the crap TV shows in return for our???or grapes at $10-$12 a kilo?Who’s responsible for that? Me too I suppose?What happens to our cotton?Probably goes to China,Indonesia,Vietnam etc for fabrics to sell here?How much of our water is wasted growing cotton for this purpose? It had/has nought to do with me! And those pesky Greens didn’t have the numbers in either place/s to stop it either! Go & find those who’re responsible?You probably voted for them – I certainly didn’t!

  13. “There’s something wrong with the electoral system, when someone in this position can prevent a popularly elected govt from having its legislation passed in the Senate.”

    The government may be “popularly elected”, but so is the Senate, and if a majority of the Senate does not support a piece of legislation, they have every right to block it. Its the role of the Senate – and a very important one – to assess all legislation the government of the day puts forward.

    Much as I disagree with his decision, Steve Fielding did not block this legislation and odes not have the power to block anything. It requires 38 Senators to block something, not 1.

    I presume you were happy Naomi that previous Senates blocked some of the Howard government’s more draconian workplace laws – you have to take the rough with the smooth if you want to have a Senate to operate as a check on the government of the day.

    As for Fielding’s original vote, the reference in the Herald Sun was quite misleading – hard to see why they felt the need to understate his vote. It was still less than 2%, so the same point about how small his level of public support is can still be made.

  14. “.. It was still less than 2%, so the same point about how small his level of public support is can still be made.”
    Andrew, and your point is? It was voted on,on party lines plus Fielding?? I accept the role of the Senate, but on this issue, and with Senator Fielding’s role in it, I don’t think he had a just reason to do as he did – that’s a bit more than accepting the “rough with the smooth”! That’s an abuse of his right!
    In a democracy, a real democracy, someone with only 2% of the vote should not ABUSE HIS POSITION, WITHOUT ANY ATTEMPT TO MOVE AN AMENDMENT OR ?He’s obviously in the ‘pocket’ of the Coalition. His vote was ‘bought’! And who are “we”? I heard him utter it again today in regard to pensioners. “We” have received phone calls from pensioners who’ve bought pet food to live on! He’s an opportunistic bastard, taking advantage of his position – certainly doesn’t give a hoot about families, and certainly not pensioners!
    And when did the now Oppostition ever give a damn about the plight of pensioners?Their concern commenced when?200?
    Andrew, when you live my life, survive on my income, then you MAY have the right to tell me what to accept or not.You’re doing neither! I’m not living on YOUR pension, but my taxes are paying for it?
    And as for the Senate ammendment/s re the horrific Worstchoices?Visited injured workers in their homes?I have, many times,over many years. Asked? employers to comply with the law?I have,many times! Listened to pain filled workers(australia wide) threaten suicide?I have, many times!When have you been to WC court to support others?I have, many times,over many years! I CO-ORDINATED (I started it)a support group for RSI sufferers – 9yrs UNPAID – it COST ME?I take slow release morphine twice daily just to ‘live’ independently due to a PREVENTABLE injury 25 yrs ago! I don’t owe anybody (senators included) anything re Worstchoices ‘amendments’! Nothing! Zilch! I don’t feel grateful if senators condemn drunk drivers either?OK?

  15. Naomi:

    All I did was point out the lack of democracy in your attitude, and a possibility regarding the Chinese government.

    Then you behaved as if I had accused you of all of Australia’s woes. Finally you tried to hold ME responsible for them.

    Don’t you think there’s something wrong with that?

    I’m just as opposed to a lot of the things you mentioned as you are. It certainly isn’t me who’s been selling the nation out for decades.

    The Greens may have some good points, but they have some potentially destructive ideas that could sell us out in a much bigger way. I don’t think they have a balanced holistic view.

    The Chinese want our coal, as will many other second and third world nations. What would they do if Greens succeeded in stopping mining?

    What would that do to Australia’s economy?

    We are supposed to be living in a democracy. As a politician elected by the people, Steve Fielding can vote any way he chooses, whether we like his decisions or not.

  16. Andrew Bartlett: Thanks for your voice of reason, plainly stated (in my opinion) and with reference to your own time in the Senate.

    Lorikeet: Just polish up those cast iron feathers to which you’ve previously referred :)


    “That’s an abuse of his right!
    In a democracy, a real democracy, someone with only 2% of the vote should not ABUSE HIS POSITION, WITHOUT ANY ATTEMPT TO MOVE AN AMENDMENT OR ?”

    Amazing! That’s the total of my comment on the above.

    Lest there be anyone else similarly challenged, Senator Fielding’s use of the word “we” probably means “we”, the party (he is in a registered political party called “Family First”). I daresay he does not field each and every inquiry directed at Family First from across Australia.

  17. On this one I do agree with Lorikeet. Unfortunaetly our Naomi is a classic case of the intolerant tolerant. One step removed from totalitariansim, the most efficient form of goverrnemnt as long as you get a good dictator.

    Unfrortuantely we have to make do with democracy.

  18. GZG:

    Don’t worry, the feathers haven’t received even a slight tarnishing. I just wanted to set the record straight, in the interests of better communication and understanding.

  19. If a ‘democracy’ implies the wishes of the majority, then Senator Fielding imposed his view, to influence the will of the majority of Australians who voted for the Rudd govt.What made it worse, was that he showed no intention of finding some point of compromise, compounding that was the fact, that his excuses, explanations etc were poor substitutes for a viable adult, democratic position. I have no problem with anybody who disagrees with me, but at least put forward some cohesive reasons – he didn’t! That’s not excercising democracy, it’s using it for your own self; at best his (and Coalitions)reason/s were pathetic! It’s a nonsense to try and suggest, that farmers and people in the tourist industry can’t buy a 4 wheel drive under $54,000, and if they can afford that, they’re not doing it too ‘tough’ are they?
    Yes, China buys our coal.Who decided to sell it, and why aren’t they spending/promoting alternative fuels, the technology of which is available in this country now! I also query those re China, that they used our coal to manufacture our TV’s etc and the overwhelming majority of garments in our stores. It’s a difficult situation, but not impossible. Mining companies per se and coal mining companies in particular have had at least 10 yrs to modify or clean up their act, as has state/fed govts, they haven’t, and we’ll have to suffer the consequences, or our kids/grandkids will. I was involved 30 yrs ago with many others talking about renewables and the dangers to miners and the broader community/environment re the use of coal. I’ve also lived in an area ‘surrounded’ by coal mines, so I think my frustration is understandable and even measured in fact. Adding insult to injury is the billions fossil fuels receive from our taxes!
    Incidently LORIKEET, the Greens aren’t the only group advocating alternatives to filthy coal fired power stations! They’re not even efficient, as about 2/3 is wasted heat – not energy! ACF, FOE to name 2 others only!Have for yrs

  20. Democracy comes from the Greek demos meaning people and the Greek kratia – rule.

    So it means people rule and it takes the form as we know it of the people vesting that power in people elected by them in free and fair electoral systems. There is nothing in the principles of democracy that requires an elected official to compromise to offer alternatives sensible as that may be.

    How that power is exercised is assessed by the people and they accordingly make a decision at the next appropriate time, if the majority of them then decide to alter those power relationships then that occurs.

    It could certainly be argued that a full senate election should always be held at the same time as a house of reps, why it isn’t Andrew may enlighten us. Because there is a case to say that Senator Fielding was not elected by the people at the time that the current mood prevails.

    However all governments invoke the moral argument for a “mandate” and all others invoke reason why they to also have a mandate. The GST election is the most obvious example in recent times.

  21. “It could certainly be argued that a full senate election should always be held at the same time as a house of reps, why it isn’t Andrew may enlighten us.”

    The short answer is because the Constitution says so. My understanding of the reasoning behind this provision requiring only half the Senate to be elected every three years is that it was a counter-balance the impact of immediacy. In other words, the Senate could take a longer-term view rather be quite so hostage to immediate trends and impacts, which could be more transient. It draws on the practice in the USA, where only a third of the Senate is elected at the Congressional elections held every two years (thus giving six year terms).

    The double dissolution provision in the Constition is there to provide a resolution when these two different methods of electing the separate Houses of Parliament lead to a stand off – dissolve the whole lot and start again. (Hence my other post about the potential of a double dissolution election happening this time)

  22. Thanks, Andrew. The first part of it makes sense, but why would they want to kick EVERYBODY out, and not just the recently elected HALF of the Senate? This sounds as if they’re going against their own logically thought out rules.


    I asked you 3 valid questions. None were answered. All we got was another tirade.

    I’m well aware that Greens aren’t the only group advocating alternatives to coal. One of the people might even be me.

  23. LORIKEET – “One of the people might even be me.” Well then, why didn’t you say that? It seems to me, that you can go off topic, generalise about something, even to the point of being outrageous, and that’s fine, but nobody else can even come close. I answered what you raised. I don’t really know how to go about it, then I don’t have the information that others do(politicians) at my disposal. I believe that China is interested in renewable energy, and is putting funding into it – I did read/hear somewhere that its renewable energy use is higher than ours (13% vs our 3 or so%)- don’t recall who said it though! I think it’s legitimate of me to feel frustrated after over 30 yrs of inaction, almost 12 of those due to Howard!
    China is becoming more wealthy by the month. They open a coal fired power station every few months. If Australia, with its huge energy source (the sun) had shown interest in sharing the technology with China, imagine where’ we’d be now? Per head of population, our Co2 emissions are almost the worst in the world (higher than China’s) – we need to act very soon! But, our govts are more interested in supporting the wealthy mining companies; in other areas apart from coal, regardless of the damage being done to the environment, forests and the planet. Norway has just removed their money from a major mining company, due to their ‘damaging & immoral? ‘ practices re forests, pollution etc! (billions of dollars invested from their super funds – removed). I’ve read long winded ??? from others here and on other topics – repeatedly! Broad unsubstantiated generalisations? That’s OK though? If you agree, you defend them, if not you don’t?Simple?

  24. Naomi:

    I don’t think we can compare Australia’s emissions with those of China. Their people are almost stacked on top of one another and many areas are primitive and “old fashioned”. Our people are much further flung and our country was industrialised and modernised a long time ago.

    Once the whole of China moves into the industrial age, they could easily out-pollute nearly anyone.

    BTW I don’t accuse other people of blaming me for things I am not responsible for, and then turn around and blame them.

  25. “China is becoming more wealthy by the month. They open a coal fired power station every few months”

    Naomi, try two a week.

    Or with qualification as to the size, every 7 to 10 days.

    Enough to make any clear thinking person wonder why anyone would bother fiddling with Australia’s drop in the ocean, wouldn’t you think.

    All the pain but it could make one feel good I guess.

  26. OK, 2 a week! I thought it was higher than what I said, but it sounded ‘over the top’? The fact is, that per head of population we’re ahead re CO2 emissions, than most of the rest of the world – a few exceptions! We need to show the way by example. 40% of emissions are from buildings. There’s the technology available now to reverse this.Even if it’s only for the reason, that fossil fuels won’t last forever, and we have an obligation to future generations to stop using and abusing our way, regardless of the future, and those who come after us.There’s another aspect that’s not discussed – health? Why has the incidence of cancer increased to the present, one in 2 people will be diagnosed? I think this is horrendous, but I’m alone, sadly – it’s accepted! I’ve not heard one politician raise this aspect of global warming, oil and oil derivitives etc.The huge increase in only a couple of decades should warn us, that the planet is pretty sick! What we’re doing, maunfacturing, the air/food we’re breathing etc must be contributing to this stat.
    KEN – I find you likening my views to totalitarianism offensive – You obviously think it’s OK for the likes of Steve Fielding to impose his view (unrepresentative of ordinary families -who he boasts to represent). He’s only supported a small minority who can afford this luxury – a car over $57K! That’s more of an example of totalitarianism?Caved in to another minority – the car industry! I, on the other hand, support the majority – those wage and salary earners who could benefit from this tax on the rich! Perhaps you also defend the recent US Administration’s ‘socialist’ contribution to corporate wealth, paid for by the poor – $300 billion – profits privatized, losses socialized?Total cost to ‘ordinary’ people under Bush – trillions?

  27. Einstein is widely quoted as having said “The significant problems we face can not be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” We are only a small country and our per capita emissions add up to a lot more than the per capita emissions of China, but that is no reason to not put pressure on China, and India, AND the big players in the West to clean up our act, instead of using up fossil fuels helter-skelter because we can. A more egalitarian society would willingly sacrifice the comfort of the upper half of the income sprectrum to enable the lowere levels to at least live comfortably, with government support for decent housing, health and education services, with an emphasis on sustainable transport, heating and water.

    We get the governments we vote for, and they know we will let them stay, as in NSW, because we fear we can get no-one better if the incumbents are toppled. And, so, it comes to pass. WA and the Federal Parliament show that the population trusts neither party very much … for good reason. We need some leaders who areprepared to think ahead more than 4 years … but I have lost hope.

  28. I suggest everyone takes a look at Sarah’s link on Andrew’s post “Carbon Pollution Reduction Green Paper”.


    Yes, Albert Einstein was a visionary thinker.

  29. Another aspect of countries like Australia, US Britain etc leading the way re climate change, is that we started to pour pollution into the atmosphere many years before both China & India – another reason for us to now take some leadership re the solution – or at least to scale back our current rate of Co2 emissions into the atmosphere. Yesterday, I heard John Doyle of Two Men in the Top End (with Tim Flannery) speak of the weather changes in that area – could be the smog from China causing the increase in rain patterns. He also spoke against the idea of moving up there to grow food – the soil is not much good, and the wet season only leaves a very small time frame, in which crops have to be sown and harvested before the rains come – they just wash away everything in their path. Senator Bill Heffernan is keen on moving up north when climate change makes the areas now used for farming, too dry. Doesn’t sound a viable proposition to me, as the Ord River Dam didn’t lend itself to a similar plan.

    Incidently, it looks as though Senator Fielding has changed his mind re legislation to introduce a tax on luxury vehicles – due to a compromise with the Rudd Govt. I applaud him for it! This is what I argued for in the first place – a responsible attempt to reach a compromise; not to abuse his position, just because he could,and also allowing the elected govt to legislate for its policies! I still maintain, that there are many 4 wheel drive vehicles (that seat 7 people) for much less than $55,000! (I’ve been paying particular attention to TV and newspaper ads etc) I rest my case!

  30. Naomi:

    If Senator Fielding has changed his mind, it will probably be because he doesn’t want to have one of the shortest political careers in history.

    If he causes a double dissolution to occur, he will simply be kissing his Senate seat goodbye. I think even those of us who don’t believe in man-made climate change would mostly not mind downsizing vehicles to reduce pollution.

    However, should a miracle occur and the people chose to elect Fielding again, chances are there would be even more Labor politicians in the other half of the Senate than there are now. Then where would his Liberal leanings be?

  31. LORIKEET – He’s claiming now, that he really ONLY wanted to air his compromises, but he didn’t mention that at the time, as I recall – the Greens didn’t have any trouble did they? Their amendments were agreed to by Labor? I wonder why the Liberals feel, that they don’t have to justify their position? Fielding still maintains that he voted thus due to concern for farmers, tourist guides who need 4 wheel drives – fair enough too, but except for the well known ‘luxury’ brands, none of which are Australian owned, it’s more than possible to buy one for heaps less than the $54-57,000? It’s certainly possible to buy a Ute for much less than that? They’re widely used on farms too. Maybe he listened to or read the views of those who didn’t believe he was genuine, and had a re-think of his position. That’s good too! It’s OK to change his mind, I just hope he pays more attention next time. I don’t think many ‘battlers’ felt any sympathy over this tax? I certainly don’t, but as we’ve seen in recent days, the ‘establishment’ protects those with money – heaps of it!

  32. The Liberals are far too busy trying to pound Labor into the pavement over an increase in the single rate of Age Pension. This has certainly diverted at least some attention away from Liberals’ interest in rich mates with luxury vehicles.

    I think Turnbully is a hypocrite. He wasn’t interested in pension increases until he thought he could use them to bludgeon the other side.

    I think it’s important that we don’t take too naive a view of Fielding’s change of heart. He’s only paying attention to keeping his Senate seat.

  33. LORIKEET – I heartily agree with you! I’m not naive about politicians motivations. I think the whole Coalition is hypocritical over pensioners. And they’re only interested in aged citizens and veterans. To hell with those on DSP or Carers pension or ? The Coaliton did nought for 12 years, and now they’re so concerned??? What a laugh!

    I understand the need to get the ‘maths’ right for the future, but question the time needed? Taxpayers got tax cuts of over $100 billion over several years, and how much will a decent income cost for pensioners? I think I mentioned the bloke who’s paying 80% of his pension on rent. How is he living??Makes you wonder??

  34. Naomi:

    I think the answer lies with John Howard trying to land as many sole parents and disability pensioners as possible on a very long dole queue at Centrelink.

    Aged pensioners have their own separate queue, but there is certainly not a lot of attention paid to the fact that single pensioners still have the same rates/rent/house insurance to pay as a married couple receiving almost twice as much money.

    If there’s a man in the house, he is also often capable of taking care of maintenance such as mowing and repair work, which has a significant value.

    As you would be aware, disability pensioners are generally worse off than either single or partnered age pensioners. Some have always lived on low welfare payments, and never had a chance to amass money, property etc, and also had higher living and transport costs. Some living with parents have been better served e.g. not having to pay rent/rates/house insurance etc.

    Carers have never received much attention at all (treated even worse than a dog) until fairly recently, when a few improvements were made, by Liberals I think.

    I don’t think the Labor government cares very much about getting the “maths” right, but they are probably marginally better than Liberals on social policy.

    No doubt the bloke who’s paying 80% of his pension in rent fights the neighbours’ dogs each night for a portion of their meals.

  35. Naomi, why you think it is a joke for the Senate to give its backing to a measure that would increase the single rate pension by $30 a week?

    Did you also think the work of the Senate Community Affairs Committee in reporting on the cost of living pressures on older Australians was a joke?

    With the Harmer review now completed, I take it that you would consider waiting for the Henry review to be completed before Labor takes any action as not a laughing matter.

    Though it is interesting to see you consider the former Government’s decision to link increases to the Age Pension with income rather than cost of living expenses (meaning single pensions are now $72.80 and couples $122.60 better off each fortnight) as doing nothing.

    Does this ‘doing nothing’ also include the former Government’s decision to ease the eligibility requirements for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (which is now held by around 300,000 Australians, compared to around 35,000 Australians under Labor).

    Would the former Government’s introduction of the an increased private health insurance rebate – 35% for Australians aged 65 and over and 40% for Australians aged 70 and over – fall under this ‘doing nothing’ category?

    Or what about the Medicare Safety Net and the Utilities Allowance. Would older Australians consider this as doing nothing?

    Or what about increasing the number of Aged Care Placed from 141,292 under Labor to 208,698? How about increasing Aged Care Funding from $3.1 billion under Labor to $8.7 billion. Or increasing Health Care for Veterans Funding from $1.6 billion under Labor to $4.7 billion. All of this, I take it, you would consider as doing nothing.

    If nothing of consequence was achieved under the former Government, perhaps you would support the current Government giving tax payers a refund for all the additional money invested in aged care and health care that produced nothing?

  36. And with nothing being achieved by the former Government, you would be highly concerned about the prospect of the current Government achieving nothing during its term in office.

    Naomi would have been one of the many Australians who provided Roy Morgan with the following feedback about Labor:

    “Too many meetings, not enough action.”
    “There’s a series of issues, none of them ever get resolved. (Kevin Rudd is) constantly moving to next issue. Lots of ‘verbage’ about ‘new’ issues. No decisions. Nothing is resolved.”

    With Naomi considering the previous Government as a ‘do nothing’ government, it’ll be interesting to hear what adjective(s) she uses to describe the current government.

  37. “The Greens may have some good points, but they have some potentially destructive ideas that could sell us out in a much bigger way. I don’t think they have a balanced holistic view”

    I totally disagree with this point. The Greens are the new power players in the Senate and will fo well if more Australians got behind them.

  38. More Australians will get behind the Greens when they believe in the Greens’ policies and practices.

    Personally, I’m not totally convinced of either yet, havign seen some pretty silly policies and dubious political practices. But I am keeping my eyes and ears open.

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