LOCAL small businesses haemorrhaging under the strain of soaring electricity bills have welcomed a move by the federal government to cut the carbon tax – and power costs.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week announced he would repeal the carbon tax, which the Coalition claims would save the average businesses thousands on their power bill each year and the average household $3000 over six years.
Kootingal primary producer Col Quast, owner of Quast Turkeys, said he forked out $10,000 a month for his electricity bill and any respite would be warmly received.
“Part of that $10,000 is a $550 carbon tax component so we would save $6600 a year,” Mr Quast said.
“Our electricity bill has gone up $50,000 in the last two years and we haven’t been able to pass it on because of resistence from our buyers.
“We’re getting less for turkeys today than we were five years ago and electricity costs aren’t helping the business.”
He said the business had undertaken a full electricity audit but had cut power costs back to the bone.
“It’s the network charges that kill you, they’re just bloody huge,” Mr Quast said.
“We’ve looked at solar but it would cost us $600,000 just to put a dint in our power bill.”
Tamworth Business Chamber president Tim Coates said it was “manifestly unfair” local businesses were paying more for power than others parts of NSW.
“Ninety-eight per cent of businesses in the New England are small businesses and electricity is a definite issue,” Mr Coates said.
“Perhaps we have to pay a little bit more in the country but 30 per cent more than the city is too high. And there shouldn’t be a difference between what you pay in New England and what you pay in the Riverina, for example. It needs to be a level playing field in regional areas.”
New England MP Barnaby Joyce said the axing of the carbon tax would be a win for household and business budgets. “The carbon tax adds to the cost of living. It makes households and families pay more for electricity and gas. It costs businesses more to operate, and it makes everything in our economy more expensive,” Mr Joyce said.
“The Northern Daily Leader has this week reported on an important issue affecting every single household and business in our region. It is not acceptable that people in rural and regional areas should be paying more for electricity than their city counterparts.”