THE Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie has called on the residents of Indi to treat the next federal election as a referendum on the carbon tax.
“It is all very well to say Indi is a safe seat,” she said.
“But to get rid of the carbon tax we need a change in government.
“So it is important those people who live in rural areas and who will now be hit by the tax also try to influence people in urban and major regional seats which are not held by the conservatives, to help change the government.”
But Senator McKenzie, who is not up for reelection at the next federal election, said it was important people not just focus on the House of Representatives.
“It is no good having a change of government if we do not have a change in the Senate, if the Greens are left in control of it,” she said.
Senator McKenzie said the next election will be crucial for major regional centres such as Wodonga.
“Wodonga’s agricultural sector, which has an approximate production gross value of $26 million according to the figures used by the City of Wodonga, is under threat.
“The industry is now being hit by the flow-on effects of the carbon tax through increased power prices and other input costs, especially fertiliser and refrigeration.”
Senator McKenzie said the price of the refrigerant
R404A, used in most industrial and supermarket refrigeration, has jumped 400 per cent.”
“Meanwhile, the Australian Dairy Industry Council predicts average dairy farm expenses could
jump between $5000 and $7000 per annum,” she said.
Senator McKenzie said Labor’s commitment to apply the carbon tax to on-road transport from July, 2014, would immediately make all transport much dearer.
“The six cents a litre tax, on top of existing impacts from carbon pricing will be the last straw for thousands of farm businesses, farm families and their regional communities,” she said.
“A carbon tax on heavy road transport will just about end the competitiveness of Australian agriculture domestically and internationally, across the board of food and fibre.
“The additional cost of road transport because of the carbon tax is particularly relevant to an area like Wodonga.”
Senator McKenzie said dairy and red meat industries will be among the hardest hit because of their huge reliance on energy and road transport, creating a big advantage in global markets for key competitors like New Zealand and the EU.
“Australia’s carbon price is $23 a tonne and indexed to keep going up, while the price in Europe is now under $10 and is effectively under $3 in New Zealand, with no prospect of any real upward movement,” she said.
“No other major agricultural power has such an anti-farm carbon pricing regime as we areinstituting, and the threat it poses is being vastly underestimated.”