Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9257

Mr BRUCE SCOTT (MaranoaSecond Deputy Speaker) (12:51): I rise to support the motion as moved by the member for Gippsland, and that is specifically: 'The concern regarding the impact of the carbon tax on at least 104 councils in rural, regional and urban Australia which have received notices of potential liability from the Clean Energy Regulator.'

I was shocked when two of my councils were named in that list: the Maranoa Regional Council based in Roma, my own home town, and the Western Downs Regional Council based in Dalby in my electorate. They were straightaway labelled as big polluters. These are councils that employ people and create jobs. The families live in these towns, their children go to school, they shop in town, and yet they are labelled as big polluters. I could not believe it. The Western Downs Regional Council with a population of 32,000 is a very large geographic area. The Maranoa Regional Council based in Roma is 13,000. They are the approximate population figures as at June last year.

The Maranoa Regional Council have said that their electricity bill will rise by around $200,000. The mayor said that, logically, they are going to have to pass that cost on. Who to? To the ratepayers, and this is just the start of it. The ratepayers are going to be burdened with another cost, and it is going to be reflected in their rates notices that go out this year because councils have to make sure that they do not run deficit budgets and run up big debts. They are going to have to pay this tax. The mayor went on to say that they will look at retro-fitting some of the buildings, but that also is going to cost money and these are councils that are struggling. They do a magnificent job, but they struggle, day-to-day, and their only source of revenue is Financial Assistance Grants from the federal government or the ratepayers' rates that they receive. When I wrote to the minister about this, he advised me that these councils were included because they are natural gas suppliers. That is why they are considered big polluters. Natural gas is the fuel used in various types of businesses and households, and natural gas suppliers were chosen to be the point of liability to ensure effective and efficient coverage.

I want to touch on another business enterprise in my electorate—and I could probably name many of them—but this one, in particular, came to my attention recently and it is a Goondiwindi business that is going to be hit by the carbon tax.

This is a business that processes grain and packages it for export. I ask the minister: how do you compensate an exporter for the increased costs that they will have to bear as a result of the increased cost of electricity that they will be paying? We hear day to day in the House from the Prime Minister and other ministers, 'Oh, there's a compensation package.' This business was advised by its electricity provider that, as of 1 July this year, there would be a carbon charge applied to the electricity account that they receive. They have estimated that that is going to cost them an extra $70,000 to $80,000 in the first 12 months. Where do they pass that cost on to when they are an exporting enterprise? Do they pass it down the line or up the line or do they absorb it?

This is a business that employs 33 people. It is an important part of the food processing chain—grain cleaning and grain packaging. Of course, most of this grain is going on to export markets, which is already very difficult for exporters given the high value of our Australian dollar. There is no compensation package for this enterprise. So either they will absorb it or they will have to go back to the producer, the farmer, and say, 'We now have to pay you less because we have greater costs as a result of the carbon tax.'

I say to the Prime Minister that it is about time that she got out there and spoke to the real people and visited some small businesses. The Prime Minister should do as we on this side of the House have done—go and visit small business after small business and talk to the real people who are going to be affected by this insidious carbon tax, the effects of which are going to cascade across the country. (Time expired)