18 May 2016


A majority of residents in the mining states of Western Australia and Queensland think the Government is spending too much money on fossil fuel subsidies, according to two new polls released today.

The federal government currently hands out more than $7.7 billion of taxpayer funds each year on fossil fuel subsidies – effectively promoting the pollution that causes global warming.

With the election just weeks away, neither the Government nor Opposition have yet committed to phasing out the subsidies.

The twin polls, conducted by ReachTEL on 1 May, surveyed 1203 Western Australians, and 1241 Queenslanders.

In Western Australia, 51.7% of residents surveyed think this $7.7 billion government handout is too much, while in Queensland the figure is 52.3%.

A very small minority (WA 11.9%, Qld 13.2%) don’t support the ending of fossil fuels, instead preferring they be phased out immediately (WA 23.1%, Qld 25.4%), or phased out over time (WA 55.0%, Qld 51.2%).

Of that $7.7 billion, $2.1 billion a year is handed over to mining companies to subsidise their fuel costs, which is opposed by a majority of residents in both states (WA 54.3%, Qld 52.1%).

The vast majority in both states (WA 70.5%, Qld 74.5%) agree that we should stop subsidising the fuel costs of mining companies because they make significant profits, while a minority (WA 29.5%, Qld 25.5%) agree that mines might shut without subsidies.

In WA, most people (77.5%) prefer the funds from fossil fuel subsidies be redirected to growing renewable energy and new jobs in their home state. In Queensland, 65.1% of residents prefer the funds be redirected towards protecting the Great Barrier Reef and Reef jobs. 

In comparison, only 29.5% of Western Australians and 34.9% of Queenslanders think that it’s important to subsidise the fuel costs of mining companies to provide jobs and a stronger economy.

The mining industry has often claimed that because they don’t always use public roads, they shouldn’t have to pay the fuel tax. However, the overwhelming majority of people surveyed disagree (WA 81.8%, Qld 83.2%), and instead think that everyone should pay the same for fuel whether they use it for on road or off road activities.

WWF-Australia, GetUp and the Australian Conservation Foundation commissioned the polls.

The groups are calling on all parties to adopt policies that:

  • End non-agricultural fuel tax credits, boosting the budget by $5.5 billion in 2016-17;
  • End exploration and prospecting deductions for the mining industry ($650m);
  • End statutory effective life caps for the oil and gas sector ($349m); and
  • End the concessional rate of excise levied on aviation gasoline and aviation turbine fuel ($1.24bn).

WWF-Australia spokesperson Kellie Caught said: “Scrapping the $7.7 billion in wasteful subsidies that promote pollution is not only good for the planet, it’s also a no-brainer in terms of budget repair."

“Fossil fuel subsidies cause harm, stifle innovation and divest billions of dollars that would be better invested in renewable energy, job creation and the environment."

“The poll finds arguments made in support of continuing fossil fuel subsidies, in particular by the mining industry, no longer stack up. Everyone should do their fair share for the future of the planet and the next generation.”

WWF-Australia media contact: Daniel Rockett, National Media Manager, 0432 206 592, drockett@wwf.org.au