Labor can’t count on Greens support for petroleum resource rent tax, warns Adam Bandt
The Greens leader, Adam Bandt, has warned the government it can’t count on the minor party’s support for its “weak” changes to the petroleum resource rent tax.
The comments underscore the possibility that if the Coalition blocks the changes the Greens may demand more revenue from offshore oil and gas in return for its support in the Senate, where it holds the balance of power.
The Greens leader said that it is “not clear” the changes – designed to net $2.4bn over four years – will capture any additional revenue, rather than simply bring forward tax that would be paid in later years.
“When the gas corporations are lining up begging Labor and the Liberals to pass a law you know there’s problems with it,” Bandt told Guardian Australia in an interview marking one year of the Albanese government.
“It’s been written by the gas lobby. It’s not worth the napkin it was written on after a long lunch with the gas lobby.”
Bandt argued that alternative changes to the PRRT could net up to $90bn over 10 years, a figure backed by Parliamentary Budget Office analysis.
“This is our chance to make the big gas corporations pay their fair share of tax,” he said. “And we want this parliament to seize that opportunity.”
Despite the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association backing the Albanese government’s proposal, both the shadow treasurer, Angus Taylor, and the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, have attacked it in recent weeks, linking the PRRT to claims Labor’s policies will increase gas prices.
On Friday Dutton softened the Coalition’s message, telling The Australian it was “happy to engage constructively” with Labor to negotiate an outcome on the PRRT but seeking “reduced regulation [and] condensed timelines for approvals” in return for its support.
“I accept the industry doesn’t want the government to have to deal with the Greens, they’re crazy and they’re economic wreckers,” Dutton reportedly said.
In a wide-ranging interview, Bandt urged Labor to be more ambitious than “running through a checklist of centre-right policies” it promised at the 2022 election.
He argued that “there’s every chance that [the Coalition are] not coming back for a while” and this was an “opportunity” to enact progressive reforms, including redesigning stage three income tax cuts.
Earlier in May the Guardian revealed the cost of stage-three income tax cuts has climbed to $313bn over a decade, with the benefits flowing disproportionately to high-income earners and men,
Bandt said the Greens had “made a difference” in their year in balance of power, pushing Albanese to put renters’ rights on the agenda at national cabinet and stopping “one half” of the 116 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline.
“That’s the effect of the changes we secured to Labor’s safeguard mechanism. Labor … wanted to put no limit on new coal and gas projects and keep opening them.”
Bandt said the Greens would spend “the remainder of the term [to] try to stop Labor from opening the rest”, including using the upcoming Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act reforms to push for a “climate trigger” to block new fossil fuel projects.
Labor and the Greens remain at an impasse on the $10bn housing Australia future fund bill, which will invest to pay out up to $500m a year to build social and affordable housing.
Bandt said the Greens remain “willing to negotiate and see the legislation passed, but [the government has] got to take the rental crisis seriously and put some serious money into building public and affordable housing [because] at the moment [the bill] doesn’t”.
Bandt promised to “fight” for 5.5 million renters, warning that a 15% increase in commonwealth rent assistance in the budget, or $1 a day, was not good enough.
Asked about the PBO’s analysis that Greens policies to reduce the capital gains tax discount on property and rental deductions could reduce house prices, Bandt said it was “undeniable” that the tax concessions are “are pushing up prices out of the reach of first home buyers”.
Bandt said the Greens policies will tackle concessions that “artificially inflate” prices, arguing they could slow the growth of house prices to let wages catch up.