Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jobs at Risk From Carbon Tax: CSR Chief

The chief executive of CSR, one of the country’s largest building materials companies, has hit out at the federal government’s proposed carbon tax, saying it will not reduce world carbon emissions and would ultimately drive Australian manufacturing jobs offshore.

With the government set to announce details of the tax this weekend, Rob Sindel used his address to shareholders at CSR’s annual meeting in Melbourne to add to the chorus of business leaders in heavy industries critical of the tax.

He said trade-exposed industries must be given adequate assistance or a mass exodus of manufacturing jobs would result.

‘‘Our message to government is clear,’’ Mr Sindel said.

‘‘All trade-exposed industries must receive full transitional assistance until the rest of the world imposes a similar carbon cost.’’

Shares in carbon-intensive steel producers like BlueScope and OneSteel have rallied sharply in the past week over growing speculation they and other heavy polluters will be almost fully shielded from the carbon tax in the first few years through transitional assistance.

Mr Sindel said CSR’s glass and aluminium businesses was also likely to receive the highest level of transitional assistance but said the rate at which the assistance would be phased out was a critical factor.

‘‘The decay rate is the real sleeper in this,’’ he said.

If the assistance was phased out too quickly, Mr Sindel said 1 million manufacturing jobs, including 4000 from CSR, would be at risk.

‘‘We will fight to protect Australian industry and these jobs,’’ he said.

The country’s largest brickmaker, Brickworks has also made its stance clear against the tax, saying it will increase the cost of housing and spark an exodus of manufacturing jobs and foreign investment.

Mr Sindel said if the government was serious about carbon reduction, it would do more to increase energy efficiency in the building environment. Mr Sindel said buildings accounted for 30 per cent of the country’s energy consumption, of which 40 per cent was wasted.

The Gillard government's carbon tax is expected to start at $23 a tonne and be paid by 500 companies rather than almost 1000 liable under earlier estimates after it decided to remove fuel from the pricing scheme.

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