THE plight of local businesses that are facing huge operational challenges as a result of the impending carbon tax has been highlighted in parliament by local MP Warren Entsch.
Mr Entsch used the Adjournment Debate on Tuesday night to argue that the tax will “penalise families, penalise businesses, penalise tourism-which is the lifeblood of my area-and do absolutely nothing whatsoever for our environment.”
He has been approached by a number of local companies who are already feeling the impact of the carbon tax, including W&O Henley Refrigeration in Cairns – a father and son family business.
Owner Bill Henley has told Mr Entsch that on 1 July the cost of the five main refrigerants they use will skyrocket by between 57 to 306 per cent.
The most common gas they use is R507 and 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.
“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,” Mr Henley told the MP.
“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.”
Mr Henley said one of the major impacts would be the higher costs for security because a 10kg gas bottle, which previously was worth $500 and could be stored on the back of a ute, will now be worth almost $4,000.
Mr Entsch also raised the concerns of Great Barrier Reef Tuna owner Bob Lamason, who has calculated 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,” Mr Entsch said.
“This carbon tax will create another problem, 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.”
Mr Entsch also raised the slashing of the Diesel Fuel Rebate as another example of the government “ripping the guts out of people in my electorate.”
Residents and businesses in the Daintree have struggled for many years with inefficient and costly generators because the Labor state government legislated that they could not get access to mains electricity.
While Mr Entsch was successful in fighting to get the diesel fuel rebate extended to those who were reliant on generators, the lack of access to mains power has “contributed massively” to hardship in the community with more than 40 small businesses closing 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,” Mr Entsch said.
“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.”
Mr Entsch is again urging residents and businesses in Leichhardt to contact his office (firstname.lastname@example.org) if they have examples of carbon tax impacts, and people can also register their opposition to the tax at the ‘Can you afford the Carbon Tax’ portal on the Home page of this website.
The full transcript of Mr Entsch’s speech is available here.