"THE world's biggest economies are refusing to pay carbon levies imposed on their airlines by Europe, while the inaction of the Gillard government will see Australian airlines cop the full costs," Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Warren Truss revealed today.
"Both China and the United States have made a mockery of the Gillard government's insistence that other countries are onboard with carbon pricing.
"In fact, Australia is alone in meekly submitting to Europe's iniquitous tax with 26 countries signing a joint declaration denouncing the European Union's emission trading scheme airline tax and refusing to be bound by it.
"Under the EU's ETS, Qantas will be forced to pay an extra $2.3 million in 2012 alone, and has already announced fare surcharges on travel to and from London and Frankfurt. The tax will rise significantly in the years ahead and will be much higher for Jetstar and Virgin Australia if they enter the European market.
"But yesterday China banned its airlines from participating in the EU ETS, with the Civil Aviation Administration of China notifying all its airlines that they cannot charge its customers without government approval. "China has gone further asserting that if the EU doesn't back down it will take action to protect the 'rights of our nationals and our companies'.
"On Monday the US Senate passed legislation calling on its government to use 'all political, diplomatic and legal tools' to keep US operators exempt from the EU ETS, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismissed the EU's bid a 'unilateral', saying in writing last December: 'We strongly object on legal and policy grounds to the EU's plan to subject our operators to the EU's ETS. The EU is increasingly isolated on this issue.'"
Mr Truss listed the 26 countries that slammed the EU ETS, signing a joint declaration last September decrying the scheme as illegal and contravening the 1944 Chicago Convention. Those countries are: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, UAE and USA.
Mr Truss said it is clear from the Question Time answer today from Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd that Australia has done nothing of substance to protect Australia's interests.
"The question must be asked of the Gillard government: when the rest of the world is trying to save their airlines from these levies, and to protect their sovereignty over their own airspace, why isn't Labor protecting Australian airlines from these costs?" Mr Truss added.
"Our government should be joining the strong Chinese and US objection to this tax.
"This is an iniquitous tax. If an aircraft flies direct from Australia to Europe it will have to pay a tax to the Europeans, even for flying through Australian airspace. As this is a distance-based tax, Australia will be particularly hit because we must travel further to get to and from Europe.
"It's as if this government is setting Australia up to fail. The Gillard government cannot justify imposing its own carbon tax, let alone standing idly by while the EU slaps us with even more costs, when our competitors are saying they will not cop it.
"We need a government that will champion the cause of Australian industries, not sacrifice them and the Australian jobs they support at the altar of carbon dogma - especially when others are not."
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