January 6, 2020 – The Australia Institute has welcomed the Government’s $2 billion bushfire recovery fund announcement, but has questioned why regular Australian taxpayers are being asked to pay when a levy on fossil fuel producers would be a more appropriate way to raise the required funding.

“Regular Australians should not be forced to pay while fossil fuel producers are being let off scot-free,” says Ebony Bennett, Deputy Director of The Australia Institute.

“A modest levy on fossil fuel producers would help to shift the economic burden of these disasters from regular Australians to the coal and gas companies that are fuelling the climate crisis.

“A surplus is just an economic tool, not a policy goal in itself, and while we welcome the Government’s change in rhetoric regarding the need for a Budget surplus, it’s disappointing that the Australian community will be left to pick up the tab for yet another climate-fuelled disaster.

“As Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said, we must be honest about the fact we’re going to see more and more fires, more and more damage as each fire season comes.

“The Government has now acknowledged the link between global warming and these disasters, so placing a modest climate disaster levy on the companies that are responsible is an important next step.”

The Australia Institute is proposing the creation of a National Climate Disaster Fund, financed by a levy of $1 per tonne of carbon dioxide pollution resulting from all coal, gas and oil produced in Australia. Australia Institute research has shown that such a levy would currently raise around $1.5 billion a year.

The Australia Institute is the country’s most influential progressive think tank. We conduct research on a broad range of economic, social and environmental issues in order to inform public debate and bring greater accountability to the democratic process. www.tai.org.au