The Lock the Gate Alliance has expressed outrage at the scale and extent of taxpayer funded subsidies given to polluting industries in Queensland and has called for greater openness and public scrutiny on all handouts provided to the fossil fuels industry.
A new report published today by the Australia Institute notes that Queensland taxpayers spent more than $9.5 billion assisting the fossil fuel industry in the six years to June 2014, enough to build nine major hospitals.
National president of Lock the Gate Drew Hutton said the subsidies were offensive when ordinary Queenslanders were being asked to tighten their belts.
“In the 2013-14 financial year the Queensland government allocated a bigger slice of the state budget to assisting the fossil fuel industry than it did to disability services,” Mr Hutton said.
“We have to question why one industry sector is given so much, particularly while householders are facing increased fiscal pressure and rising utility costs.
“Next month householders will be asked to pay an extra 13.6 per cent for their electricity, meanwhile the coal industry is getting big handouts.
“Last financial year alone Queensland planned to spend $1.5 billion on industry assistance, around 60 per cent of the $2.6 billion that it was to receive in royalties.
“Something’s simply not right. We need a public debate on the need for selected industries to get massive handouts while ordinary people are asked to cut back and do without.”
The TAI report analyzed state budget papers from 2008-09 to 2013-14, revealing for the first time the size of the assistance provided to the minerals and fossil fuels industries.
Queensland topped the table in the state or territory to give the most tipping in $9.5 billion out of a national total of $17.6 billion in subsidies to the minerals and fossil fuels industries.
“The big winner was the coal industry which received a generous $500 million a year just in transport subsidies to use the railways in Queensland,” Mr Hutton said.
“Imagine what an extra $500 million a year spent on improving public transport in Queensland could do. We could see improvements in traffic congestion and increases in public transport services that could result in cleaner air, less traffic congestion and a faster more comfortable train rides to work.
“It is well past the time for a detailed open and forensic look at what, where, why and which mining industries are getting government handouts and exactly how much.”