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Making the polluters pay

Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today launched the party's Ecological tax reform policy outside the toxic waste site at Mapua, near Nelson.

"This permanent ulcer on the land at least serves as a visual reminder of why it is so vital to shift taxes off work and enterprise, and onto waste, pollution and scarce resources," Jeanette said. "Those who waste and those who pollute, pay more. Clean business pays less and everyone pays less income tax."

The key points in the policy are:

* Removing all income tax on the first $5000 of income, for everyone . We will do this in three stages over the next three years, resulting in $15 per week extra in the hand.

* Removing the major exemption from excise tax for diesel. Petrol users currently pay excise tax to the consolidated fund to help fund services such as health. Diesel users pay nothing for this purpose, thus distorting people's choice of fuels.

* A low-level carbon charge of $10/tonne of CO2, which will raise around $300m per year. This will encourage energy efficiency and make renewable energy sources more cost effective.

* A levy on tonnes of waste to landfill. This will help resource recovery, recycling and repair compete with the throwaway society.

* A levy on hazardous substances and pesticides, in proportion to their toxicity. This money will be used to fund the clean-up of contaminated sites and pay for organics research. Non-toxic pest control, organics and cleaner production in industry will become more cost effective.

* Establishment of a Commission to look at further ecological tax reforms involving pollution or energy.

"The Green Party is the only party to apply fresh thinking to the question of taxation," Jeanette Fitzsimons said. "Shifting the tax burden onto waste and pollution is common sense if we want to change our behaviour and create a sustainable economy. It's happening now in many European countries."


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