Carbon tax to go under Libs

MEETING: Griffin Coal general manager Aaron Maurer, shadow federal energy and resources minister Ian Macfarlane, Forrest MHR Nola Marino and Lanco Resources director Raj Selvendra.
MEETING: Griffin Coal general manager Aaron Maurer, shadow federal energy and resources minister Ian Macfarlane, Forrest MHR Nola Marino and Lanco Resources director Raj Selvendra.

THE Prime Minister’s claim that a Coalition government would not remove the carbon tax was wrong, shadow federal energy and resources minister Ian Macfarlane said in Collie on Tuesday.

Not only would it remove the tax, but it would happen during the first week of a Tony Abbott government, he said.

“When you win an election, you have a majority in the House of Representatives,” he said at a business breakfast.

“Say we have a majority of 15, we would introduce the legislation to the house, pass it and take it to the Senate in the first week.

“Either Labor will realise the carbon tax cost it the election and let it through —as we did with Work Choices — or, if Labor stands on its digs and votes it down (in the Senate), we will go to a double dissolution.”

A joint sitting of both houses of parliament would follow.

Even if the coalition won just a two-seat majority in the Senate in a double dissolution, the coalition would carry the vote because of its lower house majority.

“Within a month the carbon tax will be revoked,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Repealing the tax would be worth $10 billion a year to the economy, he claimed.

The Australian Government was levying a carbon tax much higher than anywhere else in the world — $23 a tonne compared with an average internationally of $4 a tonne. The highest rate elsewhere was $8 a tonne.

The government was putting chains around the necks of business but not doing enough to reduce emissions.

Despite the tax, Australian emissions would continue to increase.

China’s emissions were rising by one billion tonnes a year.

The coalition would concentrate on sequestering carbon and encouraging solar hot water systems and photo-voltaic cells for power generation rather than relying on a tax.

“Half of households will be worse off under the carbon tax,” he said. “We have an infinitely bigger tax than most countries and we are competing with countries that have environmental controls.

“This will cost jobs in Australia.”

The Department of Climate Change would also disappear under a coalition government, Mr Macfarlane said.

The mining tax (the Mineral Rent Resource Tax) will be abolished, he said.

“The impact of those two taxes on the Australian sovereign risk program is enormous,” he said.

“Spending is just not happening” now, he said.

Australians lacked confidence as they saw the economic uncertainty in Europe and “job destroying taxes introduced by the government”.

Mr Macfarlane also tipped that deposed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd would also be back in the top job before Christmas.

He said that former Labor minister Graham Richardson had a bottle of scotch riding on it. “It will be interesting to see Kevin Rudd try to work with the Greens,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Although many were convinced Australia was now in an election campaign he was not prepared to bet when the next federal election would be held.

Mr Macfarlane’s first trip to Collie was organised by Forrest MHR Nola Marino and he spoke at a breakfast organised by the Collie Chamber of Commerce and Industry before visiting both Griffin Coal’s Muja mine and BHP Billiton Worsley Alumina.

Chamber chief executive officer Richard Jackson said infrastructure around the town was crying out for investment.

The motorplex was “the only halfway decent” motor racing circuit outside Perth but was making no money because of the lack of investment.

BHP Billiton Worsley Alumuina and Alcoa at Wagerup were between them the biggest alumina producers in the world, producing nine million tonnes a year. But the area needed significant investment in infrastructure.

Road, rail and Bunbury port upgrades were all needed if Griffin Coal and Premier Coal were to meet their export targets.

“There is the potential for 850 permanent new jobs in Collie,” Mr Jackson said.

Despite what state and federal planners had said, recent statistics showed Collie’s population was growing by 3.5 per cent a year.

Perdaman Chemicals and Fertilisers had to potential to offer the first downstream processing of coal in the state. That would bring British Oxygen to Shotts Park and other industries.

A Landcorp survey of the south-west 12 months ago showed Collie was the only place in the south-west where there could be a diversity of industry.

“It is not welcome on the coast and Margaret River is very sniffy about its wines,” he said. “Collie welcomes industry and it is easier for industry to move here and find suitable employees and a community that welcomes them.”

The metropolitan industrial areas were being overtaken by housing and industry is no longer acceptable there.

“There are compelling arguments for growth of Collie” Mr Jackson said,