Carbon tax troubles growers

Shadow Minister for Agriculture John Cobb talks with Abbotsleigh Citrus's Michael McMahon.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture John Cobb talks with Abbotsleigh Citrus's Michael McMahon. Scottie Simmonds

THE carbon tax due to be introduced on July 1 was on the minds of many participants at a meeting with Federal Opposition agriculture and food security spokesman John Cobb yesterday.

Mr Cobb, who is on a tour of the district, met Canegrowers and Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers representatives in Bundaberg yesterday for talks.

Abbotsleigh Citrus managing partner Michael McMahon said it was good opportunity to brief Mr Cobb on some of the challenges they faced.

"Some of the key issues are workplace health and safety legislation, the increasing cost of production and the impact of the carbon tax," he said.

"It was good to be able to reinforce some of the important things, such as focusing on good research and development in the industry and how important that is."

Mr McMahon said electricity prices for food producers had risen "astronomically" in the past few years.

He said growers were already receiving notifications of price rises to be driven by the carbon tax from suppliers such as cardboard manufacturers.

Mr McMahon said the Federal Government had showed little interest in agriculture, which was disappointing.

Mr Cobb said the carbon tax was the main issue food producers brought up when he talked to them.

He said Prime Minister Julia Gillard's assertion the tax would not hit growers was wrong.

"Farmers use transport, diesel, electricity, gas, fertiliser, everything the carbon tax is going to belt," he said.

Mr Cobb said the tax would make imports from China, where they did not have such taxes, far more competitive with Australian products.

While homeowners may find their electricity prices go up 10% in the first year, big food producers would find prices go up two to three times what they were now paying.

Mr Cobb said a Coalition government's main objective would be to help farmers help themselves and to also reduce red tape.

Topics:  agriculture carbon tax economy farmers growers

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