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Greens MP Milne criticises Tax Laws Amendment (2007 Measures No. 6) Bill 2007: insufficiently considered; threat to farming, biodiversity; advantageous to emitters

Posted by gmarkets on 11 October, 2007

Christine Milne MP (Greens Party, Senator) stated she was appalled that the Selection of Bills Committee had decided not to refer the Tax Laws Amendment (2007 Measures No. 6) Bill 2007 to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport for appropriate consideration.

No definition of a carbon sink: Milne said the tax amendment provided for the planting of so-called carbon sinks, but there was no definition of a carbon sink. It gave full tax deductibility for any trees planted in the next four years and then a different ratio after that.

Absence of biodiversity: Milne said the important thing was that there was no requirement for the trees to stay in the ground for any length of time. This applied for 14 years—which, by coincidence, was the rotation rate for plantations. There was no requirement that the trees planted be biodiverse.

Unknown hydrological consequences: Milne said: “There is no analysis of the hydrological ramifications of this legislation. Already, rural Australia is up in arms because of the managed investment schemes and the distortion those are causing in rural Australia. Now, farmers facing drought are going to have the cement companies, the aluminium companies and the coal industry coming in and making huge investments (a) in water rights and (b) in land. They will be taking agricultural land out of food production and putting in what are effectively plantations to get tax benefits.”

Legislation could distort the carbon market: Milne said Kyoto rules did not have to be met by the legislation and it was potentially distorting the carbon market by giving an advantage to the large emitters in the context of setting up a national emissions market.

Reference: Christine Milne, Senator for Tasmania, Australian Greens Party, Senate Hansard, Commonwealth of Australia, 20 September 2007.

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