On 29 June 2012 ABC online published what appears to have been a media release from Coalition spokesperson for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt.
In this release Mr. Hunt specifically named two companies and one industry as included in the listed 294 big polluters directly paying a carbon ‘tax’ from 1 July 2012.
Intrigued by these claims, I went looking for the proof.
This following is what one of the named companies, Mackay Sugar Pty Ltd, has told government, shareholders and the Australian Stock Exchange over the years.
Mackay Sugar on average produces about 850,000 tonnes of raw sugar. The company sells primarily to Sugar Australia (for its Racecourse sugar mill) with any excess sugar product being exported. It also produces 180,000 tonnes of the by-product molasses annually which is mostly sold on the domestic market.
The company has also diversified into electricity production from cane by-product. It is currently expanding its renewable energy investment by constructing a 36MW renewable electricity plant at the Racecourse site which will supply about 30% of the Mackay district’s growing electricity needs. As a renewable energy generator/user, the impact of the carbon price on Mackay Sugar’s milling operations will be managed.
In other words, it is highly likely that Mackay Sugar (although listed as a liable entity) will have little or no exposure to direct payment for its greenhouse gas emissions and, therefore there should be a correspondingly small risk that the sugar Clarence Valley shoppers pick up from local supermarket shelves will contain a price increase attributable to Mackay Sugar’s Clean Energy liabilities in 2012-13.
Mr. Hunt also mentioned that Kraft Australia Holdings Pty Ltd (of Vegemite fame) will be raising prices because it is one of those identified big polluters. Unfortunately for Mr. Hunt this multinational company is not on the Federal Government list of liable entities for this financial year. So one has to suspect that he has been taken in by the multinational's lobbying in the media for grant monies/tax relief.
Finally, Mr. Hunt included an entire Australian industry as one of these big polluters liable to directly pay for its carbon emissions. Again, he is on shaky ground because neither dairy farmers nor dairy manufacturers are liable entities this year according to both the Federal Government and the Australian Dairy Industry Council Inc.
He also neglected to mention that corporations and local governments can stay off the list of liable entities by altering production/ business practices and/or switching to higher levels of renewable energy use through co-generation/biomass schemes and the like.
Any price increases on electricity or groceries due to carbon pricing will be directly attributable to lazy companies, that failing to address their own greenhouse gas emissions, expect their wholesale/retail customers to subsidise this folly though those very same increases being passed on to local consumers of the final product in the supply chain.
I’m sure Greg Hunt is well aware of all these points and has taken advantage of the gullibility of hard-pressed mainstream editors to create a little political mischief.