Gippsland’s carbon tax battle

GIPPSLAND’S dairy farmers, fisheries, hospitals, aged care facilities, sporting clubs and small businesses are all buckling under the strain of the carbon tax, Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has told Federal Parliament.

Mr Chester condemned the $30 million he said had been spent on a Federal Government campaign promoting the tax while local football and netball clubs struggled to pay increased energy costs to run their lights at night for training and matches.

He said aged care facilities and hospitals had already been hit with rising energy costs, including a forecast $200,000 increase at Latrobe Regional Hospital, while the United Dairy Farmers of Victoria had estimated “the increased energy bill for dairy farmers would be at least $5000 per dairy farm, with no compensation and no capacity to pass those costs on to anyone else”.

In Parliament Mr Chester read information from an email he received from the Lakes Entrance Fisherman’s Cooperative which anticipated an “estimated increase in power alone under the carbon tax” at $24,000 annually which it said would “ultimately either lead to the end of the Cooperative or increased costs to the fishers”.

The email said if increased costs were passed on to fishers they were “in a poor position” to absorb this as “they are price takers, we don’t set prices, our product sells for what it sells on any given day. We don’t have the luxury to pass the costs onto consumers.”

Mr Chester said business owners were absorbing the higher costs “because the market is flat and not in a position…to pass on those costs”.

Mr Chester quoted from a recent survey, saying it showed 75 per cent of small business owners wanted the “carbon tax scrapped because it was making a bad situation worse”.

The MP also told Parliament the government’s proposed ‘contracts for closure’ scheme, “a dog of a policy”, was adding to the “uncertainty and the drop of confidence” in the Latrobe Valley.

“We have the stupidity of using taxpayers’ money to compensate generators for the closure of their assets – assets which would close anyway within about 15 to 20 years,” Mr Chester said.

“Then we have the stupidity of using taxpayers’ money to compensate households for higher electricity prices because we will not be using the cheapest available form of baseload energy that is available to us.”