CPRS fears in Illawarra

AT the Australian Industry Group’s forum on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in Wollongong yesterday, the Australian Coal Association warned the scheme could slug coal mines an average of $4 per tonne.
CPRS fears in Illawarra CPRS fears in Illawarra CPRS fears in Illawarra CPRS fears in Illawarra CPRS fears in Illawarra

Australian Coal Association executive director Ralph Hillman.

Blair Price

ACA executive director Ralph Hillman told the forum the CPRS could force the early closure of four mines in the Illawarra and Western coalfields and eliminate more than 1600 jobs in the process.

“We estimate the new tax will add an average of $4 per tonne to the cost of mining coal in Australia,” he said.

On a brighter note for Australia’s leading export industry, Hillman said the ACA’s “Let’s cut emissions, not jobs” campaign had received thousands of visits to its website.

The dedicated campaign website has an automatic email set up so users can easily send a protest email to their local member of parliament, with Hillman saying thousands of emails protesting against the CPRS had been sent to federal politicians.

“People need to understand that mines will close and thousands of jobs could go as a direct result of the proposed tax,” Hillman said.

“Even more frustrating is the reality that global carbon emissions will not be reduced.

“Every tonne of coal not produced in Australia as a result of this tax will simply be produced by our competitors who are not being penalised in the same way by their governments.”

Hillman said independent modelling predicted that some coal mines will have their return on investment cut by up to 15%, making overseas mines more attractive.

“Both the United States and European Union have specifically rejected taxing coal mines and both produce far higher emissions than we do,” he said.

“There is time for the government to change tack on this flawed scheme.”

Ai Group chief executive Heather Ridout said many businesses in the Illawarra were focusing on how to reduce their exposure to the expected increases in costs for electricity and other emissions-intensive goods and services.

"Businesses in the Illawarra are particularly concerned about the impact of the CPRS on their customers in the key local industries including steel, coal and cement and how this impact will flow through to other companies in the region,” she said.

"The views expressed at the forum are being conveyed to the government and the opposition parties as they continue to negotiate possible amendments to the CPRS Bill.

"Political discussions are focusing on many of the concerns of business, particularly in relation to trade-exposed industries. There are very high costs expected for trade-exposed businesses which will not be borne by their competitors in other countries.

“Putting in place appropriate fortification to enable us to contribute to global emissions reduction, while not damaging investment and jobs in Australia, has to be given high priority.”

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull told Parliament the CPRS legislation should be delayed until next year, but also put forward Coalition amendments to the scheme.

According to the ABC, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told Parliament on Monday he was pleased with the progress of negotiations with the Coalition.

The ACA will continue its campaign against the proposed scheme until November 26, with another federal Senate showdown expected in the week starting November 23.

The CPRS was shot down by a 12-seat Senate margin in August.

If the Rudd government’s CPRS, in its current form, is blocked again, the government will be able to call a double dissolution and therefore call an early federal election.