June 04, 2004 | Graham

Labor’s secret $3 petrol plan?

I recently invested some time investigating a government press release merely to find it was one of the worst beat-ups I have ever seen. Rather than waste my time, I’ve decided to write about the experience.
The release came to me courtesy of another, perhaps more gullible, Liberal Party friend. I received an email with the subject line “Labor’s secret $3 petrol plan”. The text read “You may like to read the attached press release about Labor’s petrol tax!!!!!! One would like to know why it has not been mentioned in our news bulletins, I have not seen or heard of it. Have you?”
Having read the release I now know why it has not been mentioned in any news bulletins. You too can read the release by clicking here (pdf 61.1 KB). The major points are:

  • Carmen Lawrence launched a Labor Party policy called Oil:Living with Less in May
  • The policy advocates raising the excise on oil to European levels
  • Europeans pay $3 per litre of petrol so Australians will pay $3 per litre of petrol
  • It will cost $210 to fill the tank of a Holden Commodore; and
  • This is how the Labor Party is going to raise enough tax to pay for its election promises.
  • It is on the letterhead of Ian MacFarlane, Minister for Industry, Tourism and Racing, and was presumably prepared by Kirsty Boazman, the media contact nominated by the release. I’ve rung Kirsty for her comments on the release, but to date, no reply. No wonder.
    Here are the facts. Carmen Lawrence did launch a policy called Oil:Living with Less. It is not an ALP policy but belongs to the Sustainable Transport Coalition of Western Australia. She launched it in March, not May. The policy does advocate increasing the excise to European levels. I can’t find any evidence of Carmen endorsing it, let alone Mark Latham. Complete beat-up.
    But even as beat-ups go it is incompetent. I actually started looking for the ALP policy because the release itself was inconsistent. You might have noticed that it claims that petrol will reach $3 per litre because that is what Europeans pay. It also says the policy is to increase the rate of excise to European levels. So, are all other things equal between Australian and European petrol? Apparently not. The release told me: “Of that A$3 European price, about A$1.30 is tax, more than three times the Australian excise rate of 38.1 cents per litre.”
    Wait a bit, the price of Australian fuel is only nudging about $1 per litre and the difference between what we pay in excise and what the Europeans pay is 91.9 cents. Doesn’t that mean that the maximum price for fuel would only be $1.92 a litre, not $3? Indeed. But wait, there’s more.
    The tank of a Commodore holds 75 litres. That means that if the price of fuel really was $3 a litre, then it would cost $225 to fill a tank, not the $210 that Kirsty claims. Not only are her external facts wrong, but none of her internal mathematics adds up either.
    The government has enough credibility problems at the moment. Why would a Minister be trying to get away with this sort of guff? To make matters worse, the release is also up on the official Liberal Party website. In every election since 1996, even if the elected members and their staff have been prepared to act like complete geese, the Federal Secretariat has generally kept its cool and its focus. Propagating this release rather than shredding it suggests that all is not well in the Death Star either. Hope they’re not running on empty.

    Posted by Graham at 3:43 pm | Comments (3) |
    Filed under: Uncategorized


    1. http://www.crikey.com.au/whistleblower/2004/06/07-0011.html

      Comment by P Thompson — June 9, 2004 @ 2:16 pm

    2. Andrew,
      I think you’ll find that is a reference to an “oil expert”‘s claim that petrol will reach that price as a result of increases in the market price, not a secret ALP tax plan. Mr Baktiari made the claim at a conference in Western Australia. The ABC has the story at http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200408/s1172902.htm.

      Comment by Graham Young — August 12, 2004 @ 6:38 pm

    3. This link posted by Graham Young does not work
      If the Liberal party continues to ignore peak oil (see http://www.peakoil.net and http://www.apsonews.org) and does not start to develop alternative, domestically available fuels, a lot of a future $3 per liter will go to the Saudi Royal family (when Australian oil production will have declined to a trickle). A tax into Government coffers would be preferable.

      Comment by Mushalik — August 27, 2004 @ 12:19 am

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