Steve Minnikin, State Member for Chatsworth made the following speech in Parliament today.
I rise in this chamber to discuss the recently introduced carbon tax and the effects it is already having on parts on the economy. I acknowledge that some of my colleagues have raised this issue in the lead-up to the tax’s introduction on 1 July, but I want to inform the House of the impact it is having on businesses within my Chatsworth electorate and beyond.Most people in my electorate of Chatsworth will pay the carbon tax in their electricity and gas bills and will experience this delightful fact when they start to receive their first quarterly bills in a few months time. We are aware that electricity companies are already sending out notices to households and businesses confirming the price rise. The government’s own estimates are for a price rise of 10 per cent over five years. But, as my colleagues here today will attest to, in many cases that rise has occurred on day one and wipes out the so-called compensation.
Every single member in this chamber knows that the federal Labor Party government had no mandate for this legislation. The carbon tax comes at the worst possible time for Australian businesses and will begin a slow squeeze on the economy, hurting current businesses and, just as importantly, driving away future investment. Indeed, one of the small fruit and vegetable businesses that the Premier and I visited in the Chatsworth electorate during the election campaign closed its doors over the weekend as the owner stated quite emphatically that his business was struggling before the introduction of the carbon tax and he doubted he would survive much longer if this extra business cost was introduced.
Another small drycleaning business in Carina is extremely concerned about the impact of the carbon tax on its operations, and this is from a business that has been in continuous operation ever since I was a child. There are several businesses in the Tingalpa light industrial estate that use refrigerants as part of their manufacturing processes. They have expressed alarm at this particular facet of their operation, along with the expected increase in their electricity costs.
Prior to the honour of being elected as the state member for Chatsworth, I developed and managed retail shopping centres around the country. At the last shopping centre I managed I had to inform my small business tenants that the common area electricity outgoings increase would be 20 per cent from 1 July as this was the amount being charged to the lessor. This story will be played out across most shopping centres in Queensland, and which tenants will be affected the most? Small businesses run by mum and dad retailers who get up every morning, only to see their business struggle with ever-increasing business imposts.
The carbon tax is already affecting small business, and if any members doubt this fact for one moment I would invite them to come with me for a visit to Blue Line Dry Cleaners along Old Cleveland Road at Carina or Belmont Shopping Village and visit Uncle Bobs Bakery. The Labor Party simply does not get it at any level of government. The carbon tax policy is another classic example of Labor’s incompetence. Emissions will in fact increase from 2012 to 2020 from 578 million tonnes to 621 million tonnes. The federal Labor government itself estimates that Australians will be spending $3.5 billion in foreign carbon credits in 2020. This will rise to $57 billion in 2050 alone or 11⁄2 per cent of GDP on a system which is the equivalent of Australia’s Defence Force budget.
Contrast this with the Newman government which is trying to restore Queensland’s economy on the back of a four-pillar approach, with agriculture being one of these important sectors. Despite the government claiming agriculture to be exempt from the carbon tax, Australia’s peak farming body, the National Farmers Federation, is now on record saying that the carbon tax will be bad for farmers and rural communities. The flow-on effect from the carbon tax by increasing costs in transportation, electricity and fertilisers is expected to wipe $3.2 billion off farmers’ operating margins.
I am proud of the fact that many of my LNP colleagues in this chamber come from the bush and represent their rural constituents with real passion. They know more than anyone that over the past few years many farmers have been forced off the land owing to flood, drought still in certain pockets, and crippling debt. The carbon tax will force more farmers off the land by cutting their already tight margins.
After 10 days, the slow strangle of the carbon tax has already gripped food, with many food producers suffering hikes in costs. For example, the Gladstone Fish Markets has seen refrigerant prices increase from $50 per kilo to $374 per kilo. Are these companies going to absorb these extra imposts? Of course they are not. Who is going to carry the can? Once again, the consumer. No amount of flash television advertising showing extra cash handouts to families is going to compensate them in the coming months.
The bottom line is that the Newman government is trying to restore the hopes and dreams of businesses and families. The introduction of the carbon tax will impact negatively on Australians until there is a change of federal government that, according to the Newspoll this morning, will surely be coming. The baseball bats are well and truly being oiled as we speak.