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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8802

Mr BALDWIN (Paterson) (09:31): I rise to draw attention to an opportunity for tourism and hospitality businesses to finally get a straight answer on the carbon tax. After wasting $50 million on propaganda to sell its deeply unpopular and damaging carbon tax and refusing to allow Tourism Research Australia to undertake sector-specific analysis, the government has agreed to let the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission host an interactive webinar on the carbon tax. The online webinar will take place tomorrow, Thursday, 16 August, between 10 and 11 am AEST, and will be hosted by the ACCC Deputy Chair, Dr Michael Schaper. The commission's media release, issued three days ago, states:

The ACCC is encouraging small business owners to get their questions ready and sign-up now at …

The ACCC will be providing guidance on carbon price claims and addressing some of the key small business issues which have arisen since 1 July.

This is welcome news indeed, albeit with three days notice. My advice to the ACCC is to prepare itself for some seriously challenging questions from a range of industry segments such as: restaurateurs, who need advice on how they 'pass on' the carbon tax input costs where they dispose of spoiled food that never reaches a plate; adventure tourism operators such as dolphin-watching vessel operators in the seat of Gilmore using diesel fuel, but with no subsidy like that given to the Great Barrier Reef operators; heavy-vehicle users such as tour groups and caravan owners, who are worried about the scheduled end to the exemption for private vehicle fuel in 2014; hotel operators, who are expecting significant increases to costs related to air-conditioning, cleaning and lighting; regional airlines, who are concerned about the combined cost of the carbon tax with loss of the Remote Air Subsidy Scheme and increased airport security costs; bus operators, who have a compelling case for exemption from this counterproductive tax since a full bus can take scores of cars off the road. Big business can usually employ corporate social responsibility managers to investigate best practice and drive outcomes through crossfunctional teams. It is much harder for the 90 per cent of Australia's 350,000 tourism businesses who are either sole traders or small business operators. I note the ACCC's claim in its news release that it is 'generally confident businesses understand their obligations'. The special carbon tax edition of the Gold Coast Business Bulletin, published only last month, should encourage the ACCC to rethink its perception. This edition was published, in the editor's words, specifically because of 'the dark shroud of uncertainty and misunderstanding that has cloaked the introduction of the carbon tax'. I seek leave to table this document. (Time expired)

Leave not granted.