Suncoast Gold operations manager John Gate holds a renewable future fuel (and carbon tax offset) in his hands.
Suncoast Gold operations manager John Gate holds a renewable future fuel (and carbon tax offset) in his hands. Craig Warhurst

Green thinking beats a tax hit

VITAL employment and income-generating sectors of the Gympie Region economy will be hit by the new carbon tax when it comes into effect next July 1.

But one important innovator, Suncoast Gold Macadamias (Aust) Ltd, expects to be able to sidestep most of the direct impacts through its ability to generate its own electricity from waste.

Major local employers in the impact zone include Gympie Regional Council and Laminex, as well as a range of other corporate and family-owned farming, tourism, manufacturing and transport businesses.

But with compensatory packages for pensioners, trade exposed industries and many others, the ultimate net effects are still unclear.

Farmers are bracing themselves for significant cost increases from the carbon tax, and most expect trouble passing them on.

Higher prices for fertiliser, electricity and transport are predicted to finish off stressed farming businesses.

Gympie processor Suncoast Gold Macadamias says the impacts are uncertain.

"We don't really know the details," said CEO Jim Twentyman, "but we expect electricity to rise."

But the company's award-winning power generation plant, using discarded macadamia husks as fuel, will hopefully make the site self sufficient.

"Our ability to generate our own power should protect us from some of the impacts," he said. But no one can estimate the effect on growers.

Gympie Regional Council said the tax will increase costs involving machinery and even garbage disposal.

Tourism, another small family business sector, is largely dependent people driving here, making it vulnerable to the effects of more expensive fuel on family holiday choices and budgets.

The big Laminex operation at Toolara expects higher energy and distribution costs, according to its parent company Fletcher Building.

"We expect the carbon tax will lead to increased natural gas and electrical costs as retailers and generators pass on the additional costs," Fletcher's general manager for investor relations Philip King said.

"Also, from 2014, there will be increased distribution costs due to the tax on transport diesel. For us, the unknown factor is the ability to pass cost increases on to the end-user.

"In terms of direct carbon emissions, Laminex will incur the tax but will qualify for free emissions for 66% of its output as an 'emissions intensive trade exposed industry'," he said.


Carbon tax facts

  • Gympie and Fraser Coast councillors predict higher costs to dump rubbish;
  • Tax cuts, increased family payments and extra money for veterans and pensioners are intended to soften the impact;
  • Laminex and Suncoast Gold say impacts are uncertain;
  • Farmers face higher costs for electricity, machinery fuel, transport and fertiliser;
  • Tourism affected by increased driving costs;
  • Suncoast Gold opts out with self sufficiency