Australia: Carbon tax ‘threatens meat jobs’

A WODONGA export abattoir says the Gillard government’s carbon tax could cost it up to $2 million a year, threatening jobs and its international competitiveness.

Wodonga abattoir processes 1.2 million goats, sheep and lambs for the international market each year.

It also butchers 40,000 cattle that are primarily used at McDonald’s and Burger King outlets in the US.

As many as 30 frozen containers of Halal approved meat leave the abattoirs for the rest of the world each week.

The company also employs about 400 from boners to cleaners, engineers and chemists to forklift drivers.

Yesterday its general manager, Jon Hayes, and member for Indi Sophie Mirabella gave the operation as an example of regional businesses threatened by the carbon tax.

Mr Hayes said the workers were worried about their jobs, too.

“This business runs on tight margins, margins that cannot afford to have to pay an extra $1 million or $2 million a year,” he said.

“Our workers feel the same, they know this threatens their jobs.

“We are exporters connected to farmers and agriculture, why are we being penalised?

“If the carbon tax is $40 a tonne it will cost us $2 million a year, if it is $20 then it is a $1 million.

“Our global competitors do not face these charges.”

Mrs Mirabella, the opposition spokeswoman for industry, innovation and science, said Prime Minister Julia Gillard continued to ignore the pleas of regional businesses.

“This carbon tax will affect a business here, a successful local employer of 400 people, an exporter and a company that also contributes to our farming community and transport industry,” she said.

“It is going to increase the costs to this business and put in jeopardy their ability to compete internationally.

“And yet we hear the Prime Minister ignoring the pleas of abattoirs, of food producers, of food and grocery manufacturing.”

Mrs Mirabella said the Coalition’s plan would encourage innovation to reduce carbon emissions.

But she was unable to say whether it would deliver a 5 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020.

“The Coalition policy is to not tax the community or business but provide incentives to reduce emissions, be smart, plant more trees, improve our soils,” she said.