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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
Unrevised

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh] He replied that it might be paid in 20 or 25 years' time. That is one of the problems with this proposal, namely, the little people are being taxed all the time.

Another problem is the lack of alternatives in rural Ireland. The House has spent weeks debating school transport, yet we are forcing parents to drive their parents to school because they cannot get a seat on the bus. A large societal divide is emerging between the haves and the have nots. A broad-brush approach to carbon taxation runs the risk of negatively impacting a large swathe of society without a guarantee that there will be any positive behavioural change or positive impact on the environment. That is why we are opposing this tax - it has not been rural proofed. Had we adopted the legislation proposed by Deputy Martin Kenny last year, legislation would have to be rural proofed.

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice How any rural Deputy could support this baffles me. Any working couple in rural Ireland who needs a car or to heat a house will be at least €300 worse off next year. That amount will increase year on year until the difference compared with someone living in a city reaches approximately €40 per week. There are no alternatives. Show me where there is an electric tractor that will bale, mow and put out slurry for farmers.

Be they in a city or the countryside, people must remember that all food travels by lorry and that, although some lorries are moving to gas, lorries usually burn diesel. In rural Ireland, many people drive cars that cost €7,000 or €8,000. An electric car probably costs €35,000 minimum.

We are now telling farmers that we will screw them more. The Government will probably claim that, in light of double taxation, a farmer will not pay this, but the reality is that farmers pay that price to contractors, who do 90% of their work.

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

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice Let the Government not twist and turn out of this. We are crucifying rural Ireland while also asking it to sequester this so-called carbon.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly There are a number of Deputies remaining. In fairness to the Minister, we need to allow him a few minutes, but we will run out of time. I ask that Deputies only make quick contributions. I cannot stop people, so I will ask for their co-operation.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith To deny climate change is to bury one's head in the sand. We have seen the hottest September on record and wildfires from the Amazon to Siberia. Climate change is real and it is here.

To say that this increase is a rural versus city issue is wrong. There are people in Cherry Orchard and other working class estates who are freezing cold tonight because the €100 that was forwarded to them during the lockdown by An Bord Gáis is being taken back from them for their card meters at a rate of 60%. They top up a card meter by €20 and get €8 back. People cannot sustain that sort of attack. With the increase next year, there will be a hefty increase in their energy bills. We are hitting the wrong source. We made this point throughout the committee's discussions. This and the previous Governments have never conducted research into fuel poverty and energy poverty in rural and urban Ireland. It needs to be done before this Government even contemplates hitting the wrong source instead of global corporations.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae People will have to go to the bog.

Deputy Darren O'Rourke: Information on Darren O'Rourke Zoom on Darren O'Rourke This carbon tax is brutal, punitive and a lazy cop-out. It is a failure by the Government to take the hard decisions and to tackle the root causes, the big polluters and the issues of poverty, including energy poverty. It is also a failure to provide alternatives. There is the equivalent of a two and a half-year wait for the warmer homes scheme. Were one to join the queue today, 8,000 people would already be on the list. With approximately 3,000 houses being processed per year, that represents a wait of two and a half years. Even if someone wanted to do his or her part, he or she would not be a position to do so thanks to the Government.

These increases look like they will be nailed on, but the so-called offsets like fuel allowance are not nailed on in any shape or form. It is a damning indictment of the Government.

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

Deputy Darren O'Rourke: Information on Darren O'Rourke Zoom on Darren O'Rourke Transport workers in particular, including taxi drivers and private bus operators, will feel the pain of this. It is disproportionate and unfair.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly With the House's permission, I will give the Minister two minutes to respond. I was going to give him four. There are no rules. There are three Deputies remaining and only three minutes left. I ask for just a quick comment each. It is impossible to get all of them in, so I ask for their co-operation.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Tonight will be remembered as one of the most vicious attacks on rural Ireland that has ever been seen. It is a fact that this will affect everything. When living in rural Ireland, everything has to be transported on wheels. Only two weeks ago, the House debated the forestry industry. That timber is being drawn on our roads on diesel vehicles. The food that goes to our shops and supermarkets is delivered by diesel lorries. That is the way it is. Those vehicles cannot be replaced by battery vehicles in the timeframe that the Government has outlined. This will mean that the cost of living will increase significantly.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I call the final two Deputies for a brief comment each.

Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú: Information on Ruairí Ó Murchú Zoom on Ruairí Ó Murchú This is straightforward - carbon tax is an attack on rural Ireland and poor people. As has been stated, it is utterly lazy. People have no alternatives and the Government has offered none. This is a failure. Unless someone has €100,000 to pay for a high-end car, he or she will not see the benefit. That is just the way it is.

Deputy Carol Nolan: Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan Green policies and agendas will cost the country dearly. That is particularly evident in the midlands where many industries have ground to a halt and there have been significant job losses. Here we are again seeing an unfair carbon tax being imposed on people. As the Independent Farmers of Ireland stated today, this is a pay cut for farmers and contractors. It is regressive for rural Ireland, which is being punished for the sake of an aspirational and impractical agenda.

Deputy Roderic O'Gorman: Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman I thank the Deputies who contributed. I agree with Deputy Howlin, in that supporting the implementation of the carbon tax is the acid test of our seriousness as a country in tackling climate change. Over the course of the next ten years, the carbon tax's application will help us to achieve 15% of our CO2 emission cuts compared with a situation where we did not apply it.

  Deputies have made valid points regarding the importance of seeing that the carbon tax is implemented in a progressive way where its revenue is used to fund mitigation measures. I will take the opportunity to discuss the measures that will be funded as a result of the increase that has been decided upon. An additional €100 million will be invested in residential and community efficiency, starting with social housing. We will provide €100 million to enable the retrofitting of social housing.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Roderic O'Gorman: Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman It will finance a range of important and targeted social protection interventions,-----

(Interruptions).

Deputy Roderic O'Gorman: Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman -----some of which are particularly relevant to my Department in the context of increases in the qualified child payment, those being, €2 per week for children under 12 years of age and €5 per week for children over 12 years of age.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath They cannot get a bus.

Deputy Roderic O'Gorman: Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman It will lead to a €5 increase in the living alone allowance and a €3.50 per week increase in the fuel allowance. Those are the social welfare measures that will be funded as a result of this measure.

A number of Deputies raised the issue of rural Ireland. It is important to note that €20 million of the revenue will be used to pilot environmental programmes in agriculture, which is a recognition of the precarious nature of the incomes of many farmers and the importance of supporting farmers in making this change.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae The Government is looking after the farmers all right.

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice Is there fresh water with that?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Government is removing the bus service in Tipperary.

Deputy Roderic O'Gorman: Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman Is the Leas-Cheann Comhairle indicating that I must conclude?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I am afraid so.

Deputy Roderic O'Gorman: Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman The overall impact of this measure has to be seen in the context of a range of programme for Government commitments, some of which are being financed today, for example, the increased investment in LocalLink so that we can provide rural public transport, which has not been adequately provided for by previous Governments, and an increase in the public service obligation payment so that we can deliver BusConnects and improved public transport, put money into retrofitting schemes and support farmers in making the change to allow them to farm in a less carbon-intensive manner.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly The time allowed for this part of the debate has expired.


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