On the eve of the introduction of the world’s greatest carbon tax, I want to raise some very serious concerns about the impacts on my community. The carbon tax is being loudly touted as the solution to global pollution, but in reality it will simply penalise families, penalise businesses, penalise tourism-which is the lifeblood of my area-and do absolutely nothing whatsoever for our environment.
One Cairns company that I want to make special mention of tonight is W&O Henley Refrigeration, a father and son family business that is typical of those who will be most impacted. Bill Henley tells me that on 1 July the cost of the five main refrigerants they use will skyrocket by up to 306 per cent. The most common gas they use is R507. The biggest system they do is 65 kilos. Today it would cost $7,329 to re-gas but after the carbon tax it will cost more than $25,000. Bill says:
Because there was no consultation or information on the carbon tax, no-one knew how or if it would affect the price of refrigerants so I continued to quote jobs the way I always have. One quote that I won was for a fishing boat, where the gas component was $12,210. After the carbon tax, that gas price will now come in at $42,315. I have signed a contract for the total job for $75,560 but with the additional $33,000 for gas, the actual cost will be $106,000. This will destroy our business if I am held to this contract.
Bill anticipates the whole range of impacts will include: the need for a much larger working capital for his business; higher insurance costs due to the increased value of gas products; and-another thing that nobody has considered-higher costs for security because a 10-kilogram gas bottle, which previously was worth $500 and could be stored on the back of a ute, will now be worth almost $4,000.
At Great Barrier Reef Tuna, Far North Queensland’s only remaining tuna business, Bob Lamason is also very concerned about these increases. He is facing paying an extra $20,000 a year for the air-conditioning and blast freezer units on his boats. He has worked out that if someone were to go to Papua New Guinea and smuggle back one tonne of gas they could sell it and make more than $200,000. Labor, through the dismantling of the offshore solution, has already encouraged people smuggling. This carbon tax will create another problem for Labor, the smuggling of black-market gas. I will be interested to see how Labor is going to deal with this. It is yet another blow for the local fishing industry. Unfortunately, I do not think they will have to wait until Labor closes the Coral Sea; they will have already been killed off by the carbon tax.
Getting away from refrigerant and going to another good example of how this government is determined to rip the guts out of people in my electorate, let’s look at the reduction in diesel fuel rebates. For years, residents in the Daintree rainforest have struggled to deal with inefficient and costly generators because the Labor state government legislated that they could not get access to mains electricity. I fought for and was successful in getting the diesel fuel rebate extended to those families and businesses who had no option but to be reliant on diesel fuel. To this day, that community remains the only place in the world where there is a government legislated prohibition on mains power. This has contributed massively to hardship in this community, and more than 40 small businesses have had to close in recent years. This is at the same time as this government, in its wisdom, has decided to cut the diesel fuel rebate by 6c a litre to 32c.
This carbon tax is clearly another nail in the coffin for businesses and the community, particularly for the fishing industry. The whole justification for the carbon tax is supposedly about reducing pollution, yet the Daintree community is already suffering from Labor imposed legislation that is forcing them to emit diesel fumes into the atmosphere in a World Heritage area. Now this government is looking at penalising them even further. This is a community that has been the victim of appalling Labor policy for far too long.
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