Greens threaten to put brakes on ‘ute tax’ unless Labor dumps gas approvals plan

Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Greens leader Adam Bandt has written to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urging him to withdraw the Bill or risk losing support for his plan to flood the market with cleaner cars. 
Greens leader Adam Bandt has written to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urging him to withdraw the Bill or risk losing support for his plan to flood the market with cleaner cars.  Credit: William Pearce/The Nightly

The Greens are threatening to stall Labor’s vehicle efficiency standards — dubbed a “ute tax” by the Coalition — unless the Federal Government scraps legislation that could smooth the path for gas project approvals.

Greens leader Adam Bandt has written to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urging him to withdraw the Bill or risk losing support for his plan to flood the market with cleaner cars.

The threat comes after Treasurer Jim Chalmers this week promised faster decisions on project approvals as the Federal Government tries to unlock more investment in the resources sector.

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Dr Chalmers said work to streamline the approvals process was already underway, including via changes to clear up consultation requirements for offshore gas projects.

Resources Minister Madeleine King, who is leading that process, last month introduced legislation allowing her to implement the changes once they’ve been finalised.

The Greens and environmental groups claim the legislation is a “power grab” that seeks to bypass environmental laws to fast-track new gas projects.

Ms King disputes this.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Bandt said the Federal Government should withdraw the Bill if it wanted to guarantee the Greens’ support for its proposed vehicle efficiency standards.

Labor is already in a fight with the opposition and car industry over the proposal, which would impose a cap on emissions from a car makers’ fleet of vehicles from January 1.

The standards — which exist in some form in every OECD country besides Russia — would force car markers to ship more fuel-efficient cars, including EVs, into Australia.

The Coalition has labelled the standards a “ute tax” which would jack up the price of a Toyota Hilux or Ford Ranger.

The Coalition’s stance means the Government will need the Greens’ support to get the standards through parliament.

Mr Bandt said the two separate policies were “intrinsically linked” because emissions from just one gas project – Santos’ Barossa venture – would “wipe out” all of the pollution gains from the clean car standards.

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