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Financial Resolution No. 2: Excise - Mineral Oil Tax: Motion (Continued)

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 999 No. 2

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  9 o’clock

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy Who else supports carbon taxes? Big oil: ExxonMobil in the US lobbies in favour of a carbon tax. It does that because it knows that carbon taxes are not effective, because they want to deflect from the kind of green new deal programmes that have been put forward by AOC and others in the US and because they want to discredit the environmental movement. They want to associate it, not with a green new deal and socialist policies that transform people's lives for the better while tackling climate change, but with making people's lives harder.

The agenda of big oil is to hang on to the trillions of dollars of wealth that they have on their accounts, which if humanity is to survive in a way that we recognise, has to become worthless or much of it must become worthless because they cannot take the oil out of the ground. They are trying to avoid those things and they support a carbon tax for that reason. Carbon tax will not work from the perspective of addressing climate change. I have given the example of Norway earlier and I could also give the example of British Columbia where carbon taxes and a recession combined brought a maximum of a 2% reduction in carbon emissions. It is estimated to do what we need to do with carbon taxes would take 110 years. We do not have 110 years, we have ten years. Market mechanisms will not deliver the change that we need. The only way we can deliver that change in the timeframe we have is through state intervention, public ownership and planning.

Finally, I make the obvious point of how regressive are these charges. In ten years time, we are talking about a carbon tax alone of €250 for a tank of heating oil. The demand for these carbon-based products is inelastic because people do not have alternatives. If someone is living somewhere where he or she does not have public transport and does not have the money to buy a new car, the person cannot avoid it and the tax simply sits on top of them. It avoids what needs to be done.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I do not mean to interrupt but there are nine speakers and I want to make sure that everyone gets in. The time is down to a minute if Deputies can manage.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Leas-Cheann Comhairle understands rural life and her constituency. This is a three-card trick by the Greens, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. They tell us this money will be ring-fenced for projects to deal with a just transition. Just transition, my eye. Tell that to the woman trying to heat her cottage in the country, whether in Tipperary or any place, tell it to the farmer trying to cut his crop, the exporter or the lorrymen. I will be shocked if Deputy Verona Murphy supports this because she was lobbying for years with the Irish Road Haulage Association. Tell it to the contractors, Farm Contractors Ireland, to the people who are trying to get transport for their children to go to college, which we are all doing. It is shocking. To put this to the House tonight is blatant blackguarding and demonising of people in poverty, especially in rural Ireland who cannot go anywhere unless they get a taxi or drive. They have no cycle lanes and it is not safe on the roads. This will destroy taxis. What about the bus industry which is already crippled with the pandemic? How will they get back on the road again? How will lorry drivers fill up their diesel tanks? It has all gone up. It is just a cruel, mean, lean trick. I cannot believe that the Greens would pull the wool over the eyes of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Deputy.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Obviously it is a Green budget but it is abominable.

Deputy Martin Browne: Information on Martin Browne Zoom on Martin Browne Sinn Féin will oppose the carbon charge. With today's budget the Government launched yet another attack on rural Ireland. It is only weeks since many people in many parts of Tipperary, in my constituency, such as Cashel, Cahir, Roscrea and Nenagh were told they would soon be without their Express bus service. People in my constituency are limited by this and will be more reliant on their cars which the Government is trying to get rid of. The Government has said to these people that it simply does not care and that it will make it even more difficult and expensive to get around as motor fuel will increase in price courtesy of the carbon tax. The knock-on effect will be increased prices of food for families. The people living in rural Ireland will be the most effected by this. Covid has left most people with less money in their pockets and now the Government is dipping into those pockets to get a bit more. It is wrong and means that some families whose incomes have nose-dived will have to consider getting rid of a second car that they might need for work because it is too expensive to run.

The Government announced investments in DART which is probably needed, but there was no mention of public transport in rural Ireland. What does the Government expect people in my constituency to do? Are they to walk or cycle? This is another needless attack on rural Ireland. I hope the Government is pleased with itself after today.

Deputy Duncan Smith: Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith This is a pill. As Deputy Howlin said earlier, this had to come in line with the other measures recommended by the Joint Committee on Climate Action. If there is any low-hanging fruit in cutting our carbon emissions it is retrofitting houses. This has sadly been left far behind in this budget. Our houses have the highest carbon emissions in Europe, at 60% above the European average. There is nothing in this budget which will turn that around quickly. That message must be hammered home to the Government. It is letting our climate action targets down with the lack of retrofitting in this budget.

Deputy Michael Collins: Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins This is an attack on every mother and father in rural Ireland who take their children to school and work in rural Ireland. It is an attack on every farmer who is using agricultural machinery. It is an attack on every fisherman out on the high seas using fuel. It is an attack on every person who has home heating oil. It is an attack on every lorry driver delivering goods. The Government has attacked some 37% of the population of this country today. It is an absolute attack on the ordinary people of rural Ireland. I am shocked to hear an Independent Deputy, once the head of the Irish Road Haulage Association, saying she would support this. What a shame. What kind of gravy are these politicians getting? Will the Social Democrats back this? Will the Labour Party back this tonight and turn its back again on the people of rural Ireland? Any Deputy in Cork South-West who backs this is hammering extra taxes and hurt on their own people and the people of the constituency. I will not support this in any shape or form.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae I do not subscribe to this notion of climate change. The climate changed going back through the pages of history. I will not go into that but it is a fact and it is well known. This is a savage attack on people in rural Ireland who own a car, maybe an old one, although it has been tested and is legally on the road. It is an attack on old people who have no other way of heating their homes except for oil, briquettes or coal. It is an attack on farmers who cannot stir or move around at all or do anything on their farms or land without a tractor. It is an attack on plant hire and agricultural contractors. It is an attack on hauliers and bus operators. It is trying to force people to buy electric cars. If electric cars were the real deal they are supposed to be and if they were an option, the people of Ireland and the people of rural Ireland are not fools, they would buy electric cars. However they are not a real option. There is one other thing: the battery. More carbon is produced to make and dispose of batteries and it is a danger to the people who drive them if there is an accident. These are the batteries that people objected to in wind farms, where they were stored out in the open and far away. I do not subscribe to this. I will vote-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Thank you.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae I made no deal like the Labour Party. I will make no deal with anyone, only the constituents that I represent in Kerry.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Thank you.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae They are the people that I will make my deal with.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Thank you. With Deputies' co-operation everyone will get in to speak but I would like to leave the Minister a little time. Otherwise I will have to bring down the guillotine for the vote at the end. I ask for Deputies' co-operation.

Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh We already have a carbon tax. Since 2010 we have collected about €3.5 billion on carbon tax. The money has not been ring-fenced for climate change measures. People find it difficult to understand. Some years ago, "Prime Time" interviewed the CEO of the Corrib gas project. He was asked when the company would pay corporation tax.

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