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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8301

Senator WILLIAMS (New South WalesNationals Whip in the Senate) (12:53): Just a few questions, and I will not take much time of the chamber. One of my concerns is abattoirs. In one of our hearings for the Senate Select Committee on Scrutiny of New Taxes at Tamworth, Bindaree Beef, an abattoir in Inverell, the town I live in, estimates the cost to be $1.74 billion in the first year. Just a couple of points here. The Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program provides a total of $150 million over six years. Minister, I am sure you are aware of that. This is just $25 million per year, but Bindaree Beef's budget to introduce systems will cost about $30 million. Refrigeration is the largest energy user on any meat processing plant and contributes around 65 per cent of electricity use at Bindaree Beef. They anticipate an annual increase of electricity costs to around $4.8 million from $3.2 million by 2012-13.

This is the concern I have: this whole program compensates houses and pensioners, but it also affects our business sector. The minister was just saying, in response to Senator Cormann, what the rest of the world is doing. These costs are not going on abattoirs in America which businesses such as Bindaree Beef have to compete against. They do not have those costs. What can be done about helping these industries that are vital to regional Australia and rural Australia, and people in the cities also eat meat? What are you going to do? The $150 million package over six years, just $25 million a year for the whole abattoir industry, is simply not enough. It will not achieve the change.

JBS, commonly known as Swift, has an abattoir near Ipswich—$3.3 million a year is their cost with emissions and the cost of electricity. Minister, could you inform me: what you are going to do to help these businesses survive? The $150 million you have proposed over the six years simply will not do anything and the criteria for the industry mentions:

establishing a new production facility, green-field production site, or a facility for a new product which does not replace an existing site.

So a lot of your so-called compensation package does not relate to abattoirs; they will not be able to receive any of that package. Minister, what are you going to do to see that these jobs remain in our abattoirs? Just two weeks ago we had the abattoir at Grafton close and some 120 jobs have gone. What are you going to do to see that these abattoirs survive with this extra cost on their production?