Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Axed tax welcome

Goulburn Valley dairy farmers and fruit growers high-fived the Federal Parliament’s repeal of the carbon tax but a local environmentalist described it as an international embarrassment.

ALEXANDRA BATHMAN July 29, 2014 3:00am

Carbon tax repeal was a good break for fruit growers, Apple and Pear Australia chairman John Lawrenson said, pictured with grower Peter Hall at an ‘energy efficiency walk’ last week.

‘‘Australian agriculture is breathing a sigh of relief now the tax has finally been abolished,’’ National Farmers’ Federation president Brent Finlay said.

The controversial tax cost the average dairy farmer between $2000 and $7000 a year, Australian Dairy Farmers president Noel Campbell said, while Tatura Milk Industries listed a direct carbon tax liability of $900000 in its 2013 annual report.

Across the agriculture sector the average power bill increased by 10 per cent — it meant an extra $20000 a year for Mooroopna fruit grower Peter Hall.

‘‘In a fair world that 10 per cent should be redeemed,’’ Mr Hall said.

He said the carbon tax was counterproductive.

‘‘Putting a carbon tax on food production only drives food production to other countries who do not have to abide by the same tax and who do not have the same respect for the environment.

‘‘It reduced profitably and when you reduce profitably, you reduce job opportunities in the Goulburn Valley.’’

But Goulburn Valley Environmental Group vice-president Terry Court said the carbon tax repeal was a tragedy.

‘‘The adverse impact the carbon tax had on the Australian and local economy has been overstated dramatically,’’ Mr Court said.

‘‘We will be an embarrassment internationally.’’

Mr Court claimed the significant cost increase of power to farmers and fruit growers was not due to carbon tax.

‘‘I believe the majority of the cost of those bills would have been costs from poles and wires,’’ he said.

‘‘The gold plating of poles and wires costs at least six or seven times more than the carbon tax.’’

Mr Court said the carbon tax was needed for industries to move towards renewable energy sources.

Cobram East brothers Erwin and Iwan Van Den Berg milk 1400 cows and Erwin said the tax added an extra $12000 to their annual power bill.

‘‘For us it is a positive thing. It will affect our bottom line. Every little bit helps,’’ Mr Van Den Berg said, noting milk prices were coming down.

He said the tax didn’t help the environment.

‘‘I would say 80 to 90 per cent of the tax was used to shuffle paper around.

‘‘It frustrated me more in the way we were going left then right — up and down. We didn’t know where we stood.’’

Mr Van Den Berg said he was considering renewable energy partly because of the carbon tax.

Continued on page two

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