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Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Page: 11449


Mr CROOK (O'Connor) (17:54): I move amendments (1) and (2), as circulated in my name, together:

(1) Schedule 1, item 12, page 8 (after line 5), after paragraph 43-8(4)(b), insert:

(ba) you acquire, manufacture or import the fuel in a financial year for use in a business whose use of taxable fuel in the year has a *carbon dioxide equivalence of less than 25,000 tonnes; or

(2) Schedule 1, page 19 (after line 8), after item 24, insert:

24A Section 110-5

Insert:

carbon dioxide equivalence, in relation to taxable fuel, means the carbon dioxide equivalence of the amount of potential greenhouse gas emissions embodied in the fuel within the meaning of the Clean Energy Act 2011.

My strong opposition to the carbon tax will not prevent me from representing my electorate and therefore I will try to make improvements to this flawed. tax. One of the most consistent and specific complaints I have heard in my electorate concerns the government's Clean Energy (Fuel Tax Legislation Amendment) Bill 2011. This bill seeks to place what is effectively a carbon price on every business in a non-exempted industry that uses transport fuel on site. This usually involves the use of diesel fuel in combustion engines for on-site power generation.

This bill is not a just a tax on big polluters. On the contrary, it will affect thousands of small businesses, many of whom are in regional Australia and have no alternative but to use diesel fuel for power generation. I realised that my amendments were necessary following discussions with various constituents and industry representatives in my electorate. For example, one of my constituents, Helen, owns the Widgiemooltha Roadhouse and relies on diesel for on-site power generation to run both the roadhouse and attached accommodation facilities. Helen's small business will pay thousands of dollars for the carbon tax on fuel use. A small business such as Helen's is in no way a big polluter and should not be liable to pay the carbon price through reductions in diesel fuel rebates.

Other examples include the many junior miners and mineral exploration companies in my electorate. These explorers and junior miners rely on diesel fuel to operate. For many rural projects there is simply no viable alternative. These miners and explorers are in no way big polluters and should not be made to shoulder the carbon price. We should not be burdening our small businesses with further tax liabilities. Our small businesses should not be liable to pay a tax that was designed to be paid by big polluters.

My amendments introduce a threshold under which low-polluting companies will not pay the carbon price. Under my amendments, if a business's taxable fuel use in a year has a carbon dioxide equivalent of less than 25,000 tonnes, their fuel tax credits will not be affected and they will not pay the carbon price. Carbon dioxide equivalence, in relation to taxable fuel, has the same meaning as in the government's Clean Energy Bill. In essence, these amendments ensure that only the big polluters will pay a carbon price on fuels. Under my amendments, low-polluting junior miners, mineral explorers, roadhouses and accommodation facilities will not be liable to pay the carbon price. These amendments hold the government to its promise that the carbon tax is only a tax on big polluters.

I will not be supporting the government's carbon tax as it is one part of the government's triple assault on regional Western Australia. I commend these amendments to the House as fair and reasonable amendments to the fuel rebate reforms. They are necessary amendments to protect small businesses in Australia.