Wherever there’s a pile of government money, there’s a blowfly-like swarm of rent-seekers, grifters and cronies. Right now, there’s a massive pile of government money lying out in the sun, stinking to high heaven and buzzing with greedy scavengers. That pile of money is “green investment”. And one of the biggest, most bloated blowflies in Australia is angling to lay a clutch of maggots.

Andrew Forrest, the chairman of one of the nation’s largest mining companies, has privately lobbied the federal government to phase out the multibillion-dollar diesel fuel subsidy and use the money to support development of a green energy industry[…]

Dr Forrest’s proposal, according to sources briefed on the plan, would return between $5bn and $7bn a year to the budget. That money, Dr Forrest has suggested, could be used to retool Australia to support green hydrogen, green ammonia and green electricity.

The Australian

Which, purely coincidentally, are areas where Forrest has been touting his new ventures. What. A. Coincindence.

But, if Twiggy is seeing hydrogen-fuelled dollar signs, other primary producers are not so starry-eyed.

But mining and farming groups — and even some Fortescue investors – reacted savagely to news of the proposal on Monday, describing the push to phase at the $7.8bn fuel tax credit as “ridiculous” and a “fantasy”.

Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable told The Australian that the “ridiculous proposal” would cost jobs and slow investment in the sector.

She said there was currently no commercial alternative to diesel to power heavy machinery in most industries, and no certainty one would emerge by 2025, when Dr Forrest wants to begin the phase-out of the tax credit.

There’s also the minor matter that Forrest wants to swap a rebate (where businesses are refunded tax on an input cost) with a subsidy (the government giving other people’s tax money to businesses).

National Farmers’ Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said removal of the rebate was a “bad policy that would damage livelihoods in country areas”.

“Fuel tax credits exist to fix a serious distortion in the tax system. Taxing farmers every time they start their tractor, pump or generator makes no sense,” he said […]

Deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud said the rebate was “not a subsidy”.

“It’s a rebate to those users that don’t use public roads, and the machinery they use, whether that be mining or agriculture,” he said.

“We’re saying that if you don’t use those roads and you’re fuelling up your machinery with diesel, then the excise that would go to building those roads, we are giving you a rebate because you’re not using them.

The Australian

Making the whole exercise even more dubious is that, while Forrest is lobbying government and investors for hundreds of billions in funding, he has failed so far to provide any details whatsoever as to how his “green hydrogen” proposal will actually work.

If I was a more cynical type, I might be tempted to call that a “scam”.

But… renewable energy scams? Who ever heard of such a thing?

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Forrest Puts His Hand in Taxpayer’s Pockets

Lushington D. Brady

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. I grew up in a generational-Labor-voting family. I kept the faith long after the political left had abandoned it. In the last decade...