The Abbott government has driven its fuel excise hike past the lower house on high speed.
While it insists the measure won’t burn the hip-pockets of everyday Australians, it cannot be so sure it won’t crash in the Senate.
Debate was severely limited on the bill restoring regular fuel tax increases to ensure it passed on Wednesday.
It’s set to add about 60 cents to the cost of a tank of petrol from August 1, and the almost $2.2 billion it raises over four years will be spent on new roads.
Labor tried to delay the passage of what it dubbed the government’s “big new fuel tax” by seeking amendments, which inevitably failed.
It took aim at the Nationals, asking why they weren’t standing up for rural communities and opposing the “tax on distance” – because the further you go, the more you have to pay.
“Who would want to stand up in front of the farmers and small businesses saying `I just increased the cost of your business,'” Labor’s Lisa Chesters told parliament.
It was not a fair tax because it was a tax on a tax, she said.
Parliamentary secretary to the Treasurer Steve Ciobo said Labor’s arguments about the excise’s inequity were inconsistent.
It was blocking an impact of a few cents a week on motorists while it was perfectly happy to see the “world’s biggest carbon tax” blow a $550 hole in people’s pockets every year.
“The government does not need hypocrisy or lectures from Labor,” he said.
Mr Ciobo also took aim at the Australian Greens for doing “an almost gymnastic effort and backflip” by withdrawing support for the measure because it won’t fund public transport.
The Palmer United Party, which will play a crucial role in the upper house from July 1, has indicated it will oppose the rise, throwing doubt on its passage.
The Excise Tariff Amendment (Fuel Indexation) Bill 2014 and three related bills now go to the Senate.