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Fringe Benefits Tax reform would be a $1 billion victory for common sense

Reports in this morning's media suggest that the Greens' long campaign to remove the incentive to drive more in the fringe benefits tax concession will finally be included in next week's federal budget.

Treasury costings, undertaken at the request of the Greens, show almost $1 billion in revenue would be restored over the forward estimates if the Australian Greens' proposal to introduce a flat rate fringe benefits tax concession for company cars, regardless of kilometres travelled, is adopted.

"Overhauling the fringe benefits tax concession would be a $1 billion victory for common sense and a big first step in removing the perverse fossil fuel subsidies that see billions of taxpayers dollars actually encouraging pollution," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

"FBT reform is so obviously a win for the environment and the budget that it has been expected in every federal budget for years. We mustn't count any chickens unless and until we see it in black and white next week.

"Reforming the FBT would be a great first step, but much more can be done in this area.

"The Greens have long argued that the best way to reduce our vulnerability to oil price spikes and reduce pollution from transport is to help Australians to drive less and, when they do drive, to drive more efficient vehicles.

"That means investing in public transport, cyclepaths and pedestrian paths, bringing in appropriate mandatory vehicle fuel efficiency standards in line with those in Europe and Asia, and reforming perverse subsidies including the FBT concession and the diesel fuel rebate for miners which means they pay no tax on the fuel they use to dig more fossil fuels out of the ground while commuters pay through the nose.

"The Greens have also called for subsidies to the car industry in Australia to be tied to high standards of vehicle fuel efficiency or manufacture of electric cars, and new government procurement policies which prioritise getting efficient or electric cars into the fleet.

"Successive governments have completely failed to act on any of the unanimous, cross-party recommendations of a Senate Inquiry I established into Australia's future oil supply 5 years ago. The recommendations clearly pointed to the need to invest properly in oil-proofing Australia.

"If reports are correct, Wayne Swan is finally about to take a small but important step down this road next week."

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