Carbon tax lesson: Don’t be too big or too successful
So the “cash for you” has been received and spent on petrol, paying off the credit cards or the latest electricity bill, and now the nation stands on the threshold of the introduction of Labor’s carbon tax.
I guess there are worse places to be – like actually employed by one of the organisations that sit around the threshold of eligibility to pay the carbon tax.
Those nebulous, arbitrary “big polluters”. These “perpetrators” could be the Council that collects your rubbish, or the University you hope your kids will attend one day, or the manufacturer who made the disposable nappies your little one wears. Or even the abattoir that provides the meat you buy from your local supermarket.
And here’s the rub – it’s not necessarily that these particular entities are antiquated or “less green” than other Councils, or manufacturers or abattoirs. It’s that they are simply bigger. More successful.
And it’s on the threshold that we see another ridiculous aspect of this carbon tax revealed – it is essentially a tax on success.
Teys Australia Beenleigh is an abattoir in Queensland that is close to the threshold of 25,000 tones of carbon emissions.
If they can manage to keep their output below this magical threshold, they will not pay a cent to the Government. If they go over, they face a tax bill in excess of $2 million a year. Their smaller competitors won’t pay a carbon tax, so they rightly point out that they can’t simply pass the cost on to the consumer.
The solution they are considering: close down operation of their facility for several weeks each year to avoid paying the tax. Result: less work for the employees in Beenleigh, a working class suburb that by any measure sits lower than average on the socio-economic scale. Less employment, under-utilisation of resources. All for no environmental benefit.
So the message to businesses on or near the threshold is: don’t grow, stay small.
Same goes for local Councils – stay small. While Council amalgamations have been thought to be beneficial for the economies of scale they offer in providing vital services to residents, the carbon tax may reverse the trend.
Councils are targeted because of their rubbish disposal – a vital service we all require. Consider that if Council Y and neighboring Council X each have emissions that fall under the threshold, but Council Z nearby covers a population roughly the size of the combined Y and X and has emissions equal to the combined smaller Councils, and they just go over the threshold.
Bad luck ratepayers of Council Z, you pay up.
Environmentally, are the carbon emissions from 20 smaller Councils any different to the ones from five larger Councils? All carbon emissions clearly are not equal, even though they do exactly the same thing in the atmosphere. It’s crazy stuff.
It reveals the fact that this carbon tax is not about environmental outcomes at all.
Council Z is considered public enemy number one because they make Labor’s naughty list, but their smaller neighbours, with similar combined emissions are just fine and dandy. Just as Teys Beenleigh’s smaller competitors can each emit plenty of carbon – and it’s fine if they stay below the threshold.
And speaking of that “naughty list” – only 295 “entities” have so far been identified as being subject to the carbon tax. Labor has been estimating that the 500 biggest polluters will pay, and indicating that the list will be updated frequently - so who will be next?
There’s been a lot of speculation about the impact of the carbon tax. But it is “on the threshold” that we see the nature of this tax – it inhibits business growth, has no environmental benefit, and is illogical in nature.
And it’s here next week - courtesy of Labor, the Greens, and a couple of their Independent mates.
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