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Carbon campaign

Monday, 11th April, 2011

By John Casey

Powerful mining and energy union, the CFMEU, has weighed into the carbon tax debate by telling its Broken Hill members that it is one of the most important and challenging issues confronting all Australians.

The union informed its members that the issue of a carbon price in Australia would determine their future security and accused those opposing the move of political opportunism.

"We need to focus on the real issues involved in a carbon price," CFMEU Broken Hill Vice-President, Greg Braes said yesterday.

"Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is playing a dangerous game of political football with this issue and should be condemned for that approach.

"A responsible politician would be prepared to debate this issue with a sensible approach, but Mr Abbott seems intent on conducting a false scare campaign of misinformation that suits his short-term political ambitions."

Mr Braes said his members would be kept informed as more facts relating to the introduction of a price on carbon came to light, and that at the moment it was important to understand that:

  • Less than one per cent of all Australian registered companies would pay a price on the carbon they use from July 1 next year;
  • Individual taxpayers do not pay, big business does; and
  • Families, pensioners and businesses would receive most of the money raised to assist with rising electricity prices.

"The CFMEU believes a price on carbon will encourage investment and give compensation to families for rising power prices," Mr Braes said.

"Everyone understands that Australia needs more power stations and they won't get finance without certainty around a carbon price.

"It's a fact that every country that has introduced a price on carbon has protected its manufacturing industry from unfair competition."

The CFMEU accused Mr Abbott of "fiddling the figures to spread fear" about the impact of a carbon price and said a number of key business leaders had contradicted his stance.

"Shell Chairman Ann Pickard, BHP CEO Marius Kloppers and Westpac CEO Gail Kelly represent a diverse spread of prominent stakeholders who are supporting the introduction of a price on carbon," Mr Braes said.

"Without a price on carbon investors won't take the risk to build new power stations, risking blackouts in a few years time.

"The multi billion dollar resources boom needs much more energy. Construction, mining and engineering jobs depend on new investment in energy."

Supporting the CFMEU stance was a recent Galaxy Poll, commissioned by The Greens, which showed that two-thirds of voters supported a carbon tax if all the revenue was spent on compensation for households and business.

Higher-income earners, women and families were the strongest advocates and only 23 per cent of those polled opposed the suggestion, in a surprisingly strong show of support for the plan.

Greens deputy leader Christine Milne said it showed people had seen through Tony Abbott's scare campaign.

"Australians clearly recognise that building a cleaner, healthier economy means we need to put a price on pollution and make clean, renewable energy cheaper," Senator Milne said.

Another survey, from accounting software firm MYOB, found that 30 per cent of small businesses supported the government model to put a price on carbon.

MYOB chief Tim Reed said business liked certainty and the carbon tax would provide that.

"I think the lack of certainty is having a cost on business," Mr Reed said.

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