April 26, 2016

Diverse Coalition Calls on Federal Government to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies Ahead of Budget-Week

CANBERRA, 26th April: Leaders from the health, education, and renewable energy sectors, along with church leaders from Australia and the Pacific, have called on Treasurer Scott Morrison to commit to ending fossil fuel subsidies ahead of the Federal Budget hand-down next week.

With the Government seeking to tackle the budget deficit, pressure is building across the community to tackle tax payer funded fossil fuel subsidies, and instead invest the money back into our communities, in areas like health and renewable energy.

An April ReachTEL poll of 2,664 Australians found that the majority of Australians want the funds currently used to prop up the fossil fuel industry spent on health (27.5% of respondents) and growing renewable energy (26.3%), instead.

In fact, Australians ranked ending fossil fuel subsidies first as the preferred measure for the federal government to raise revenue for the Budget.

Last month, a letter signed by almost 50 organisations from a range of different sectors was sent to the Treasurer and the Prime Minister urging the government to end the $7.7 billion plus in fossil fuel subsidies currently slated for the upcoming Federal Budget.

Today, leaders from a range of different interests, representing millions of Australians, gathered inside Parliament House to put that demand front and centre of the government’s agenda as it heads into Budget week next week.

Professor Peter Brooks, Director, University of Melbourne and Doctors for the Environment said:

“The major effects of global warming are on the health of our communities, particularly the young and the aged. Given that the largest contribution to this warming is the use of fossil fuels, don’t you think they should come with a health warning much like cigarettes? Our government must stop pumping billions of dollars of our money into this damaging sector.”

Nigel Morris, CEO of Renewable Energy company Roofjuice said:

“If you look up the definition of “innovation” it doesn’t say “support a declining, obsolete industry with massive subsidies“.  It’s time the Government started investing in the future, not the past. The fossil fuel sector is on the decline. King coal is dead. The only thing slowing down this transition now is the billions in handouts to the fossil fuel sector.”

George Browning, former Anglican Church Bishop, said:

“Science and Christianity are on the same page in urging human responsibility in the face of escalating climate change. The clock is ticking. We cannot sit on our hands any longer.  Our government must stop handing over billions of our dollars to the fossil fuel industry, whose activities are driving dangerous climate change. Politics for too long has dragged its feet. It needs to catch up and realise that the age of fossil fuels is over – it’s time to invest in renewables for our future.”

Seforosa Carroll, Minister, Uniting Church of Australia and Manager, Church Partnerships, Pacific, UnitingWorld, said:

“The mining and burning of fossil fuels is destroying our islands and our cultural heritage. We bear the brunt of the damaging effects of climate change to our ecosystems and livelihoods. Australia must acknowledge that it has a responsibility to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. The continuing multi-billion dollar subsidies by the Australian Government to fossil fuel companies will in the long term have a serious impact on the already vulnerable Pacific communities by further undermining their future.”

Luke Stickels, from the Australian Education Union, said:

“Continuing to fund polluters when we know the damage being done to the environment is unforgivable intergenerational theft. It is grossly foolish and unfair. Developing our nation’s future is foremost in the minds of educators in schools across the country, but that future is not secure when the government continues to defy the urgent public desire for strong action on climate change.”

Background materials:

Media Contacts:

Cam Klose, 350.org – 0490 436 948

Charlie Stevens, WWF – 0424 649 689