Farmers to join industry in carbon rumble

FARMERS and coal miners might unite on at least one issue – fighting the carbon tax. Nationals party leader Warren Truss is beating the war drums.
Farmers to join industry in carbon rumble Farmers to join industry in carbon rumble Farmers to join industry in carbon rumble Farmers to join industry in carbon rumble Farmers to join industry in carbon rumble

Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss.

Blair Price

Last week economist Ross Garnaut unveiled his climate change review, in which he pushes for carbon emissions to be taxed at $A26 a tonne for an initial three years starting 2012 before moving to an emissions trading scheme.

Anglo American Metallurgical Coal business chief executive officer Seamus French quickly criticised the possible return to a “CPRS-style” proposal, warning that most Australian coal projects could lose an average of 40% of their value.

Truss was more concerned that agriculture could be fully included in the carbon tax regime from as early as 2015.

“Australian farmers have been promised for years that their direct emissions will be excluded under a carbon regime,” he said in a statement.

“Now, in the final stages of a deal with the Greens and Independents, it appears all bets are off.”

He added that Garnaut’s paper confirmed concerns that the proposed Carbon Farming Initiative could just be a “Trojan horse to get bureaucrats through the farm gate” to better tax agricultural industries.

The National Farmers’ Federation represents 136,000 farmers and is rallying to fight the carbon tax.

The Climate Institute’s pro-carbon price campaign is underway, featuring TV ads with actors Cate Blanchett and Michael Caton along with support from “prominent” Australians such as former Liberal leader John Hewson, who failed to win an election with his goods and services tax proposal last century.

“Trotting out celebrities and political has-beens is a luxury the green lobby and unions can afford, but while the cult of celebrity plays very well in the US, we’re more discerning here and our bulldust barometers are well tuned,” Truss said.

“I’ll see the Prime Minister’s 140 prominent Australians and raise her 136,000 farmers.

The Nationals party leader suspects the public is facing the beginning of a “hard sell” advertising campaign.

“All farmers now know they are in the fight of their lives and the rest of the country – metropolitan and regional Australians, alike – increasingly realise just what is being put in jeopardy by the ideological dogma of this Labor-Greens-Independents alliance.”

New England MP Tony Windsor, one of the two key independents which formed the Gillard government, is yet to publicly lend his support to a carbon pricing mechanism.

"Why should we do something when the rest of the world is doing nothing?" he asked a reporter according to the AAP.

Anglo’s strong reaction against the possible introduction of an emissions trading scheme could also be a taste of the industry opposition ahead.

Back in 2009 the Australian Coal Association commissioned modelling from economic consultancy ACIL Tasman, which predicted wide ranging fallout from the failed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

ACIL is again doing modelling based on the emerging plans to tax carbon emissions.