Author Topic: Gillard government further shuts down meat processing. 9.1.2012  (Read 1279 times)

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Gillard government further shuts down meat processing. 9.1.2012
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2012, 01:48:03 PM »
Abattoirs' carbon tax shutdowns.

 REGULAR shutdowns in Australian abattoirs, struggling to offset the Gillard government's carbon tax, could hit production and cost jobs as soon as July.

Queensland plants at Rockhampton, Townsville and Toowoomba are among those facing scheduled shutdowns and consequent impacts on communities and jobs.

The shutdowns will affect hundreds of workers and the supply of cattle at several middle to larger-sized plants struggling to reduce greenhouse gas output below the government-imposed maximum of 25,000 tonnes a year.

Because of the design of the tax, shutdowns of two to three weeks are the only logical way for processors to cut production and sidestep a hefty annual bill of a million dollars or more.

These are the first in the long list of beef industry impacts, which apply despite a government promise that agriculture was to be exempt from the tax.

The carbon tax was to apply to Australia's 500 biggest polluters, but meatworks are over-represented in the target group.

Australia's largest abattoir, JBS Dinmore, produces 80,000t of greenhouse gas - more than three times the tax-free limit. Its annual carbon tax bill is estimated at $3.3 million, but the risk of shutdowns is highest in plants closer to the cut-off.

Plants at Yanco, NSW, and at Rockhampton, Townsville and Toowoomba were reporting annual outputs close to 25,000t of gas in a Queensland Country Life article on October 27.

Meat industry spokesman, Teys Australia's general manager of corporate affairs, Tom Maguire, says the tax, which takes effect on July 4, endangers the competitiveness of Australia's most efficient meatworks.

"It is entirely in the government's hands to avoid the serious impact on communities and jobs," he said.

"They have been given the solution and it is up to them to act."

Between 12 and 14 of the country's largest abattoirs will be slugged up to $10/head by the tax, which applies to methane and other gases generated in their treatment ponds.

The tax liability of smaller, comparatively inefficient plants would be limited to increased prices for energy, transportation and so on.

"The Queensland beef industry is hit the hardest," Mr Maguire said, "because that is where the larger plants are located."

He said the Australian Meat Industry Council and the Meat Processors Corporation wanted the government to guarantee funds to upgrade abattoirs that would be at a cost disadvantage because of the tax.

"We are working with the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, who is now also responsible for industry and innovation," Mr Maguire said.

"The goal is to put strategies in place to get those plants back below the threshold.

"The industry is not making threats - people have to make a decision.

"Compared to the 12-month cost of the tax, a two to three-week closure to satisfy the 25 kilo-tonne limit would be the rational decision.

"You just have to look at the cost impact of the tax over 12 months. If it costs more than the value of two weeks of production, the result is inevitable."

To restore the competitiveness of larger plants, upgrades will be required to collect and flare or reuse gas emitted from the ponds.

The final cost of the work was still being calculated.

Estimates published by Queensland Country Life in October put the bill at up to $9m for each affected facility.

"It is not just a matter of covering the ponds," Mr Maguire said.

"The existing systems were built under the regulations of the Environment Protection Agency.

"We will require new ponds to comply with the new system."

Ponds up for replacement would include EPA-approved facilities at Dinmore installed just seven years ago.

09 Jan, 2012
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 04:03:43 PM by WA Export News »