News | 6th Mar, 2013

Carbon tax turnaround

6 March 2013
Gary Corbett, Beaudesert Times 

EIGHT months on from the introduction of the Federal Government’s controversial carbon tax, one of its most vocal opponents in the Scenic Rim now says the tax has been a “positive” for Bromelton business AJ Bush & Sons.

In the lead up to and since the tax’s introduction, AJ Bush & Sons has been the focus of stories highlighting the impact of the carbon tax on business, with manager David Kassulke previously expressing grave concerns over the tax.

In July last year, Senator Barnaby Joyce joined local MP Scott Buchholz in touring the business, pledging to repeal the carbon tax if the Coalition wins the next election.

As one of Australia’s top 500 polluters, AJ Bush & Sons is slugged heavily for every tonne of its carbon emissions and expects to pay a carbon tax bill of $1.2m on March 31 for the first nine months of the financial year.

Add to this an extra $175,000 in electricity charges and price hike across the board of about 16 per cent for the company’s products, and Mr Kassulke is the first to admit the tax has hit hard.

However, he now also says the tax has had a positive impact on the business.

A dollar for dollar $6.2 million grant from the government’s clean technology food and foundries investment program has put AJ Bush well on the way to slashing emissions, with the company confident its rendering operation will eventually be removed from the ‘top 500 polluters’ list.

With construction of a new biogas plant due to start this year, the company expects to cut carbon emissions from 82,000 to 25,000 tonnes per year.

The company also expects to cut its coal usage by 50 per cent and to produce 50 per cent of the company’s electricity requirements onsite.

The end result of the introduction of the new biogas technology will not only be a saving of millions of dollars in energy and carbon costs, but also an opportunity for the company to be positioned at the cutting edge of renewable energy technology in the rendering industry, Mr Kassulke said.

A vocal opponent of the carbon tax prior to its introduction by the Labor government on July 1 2012, Mr Kassulke now readily admits he has changed his tune.

While sourcing new technology to improve the rendering plant’s energy efficiency was effectively forced on the company, he now sees it as a “positive thing”.

So much so that he is confident AJ Bush will ultimately be in a much more competitive position in the marketplace as a direct result of the tax.

“We have always been focussed on energy efficiency because we use one million kilowatt hours of electricity per month and use around 2000 tonne of coal per month,” he said.

“The (biogas technology) investment is a good way to modernise and will dramatically reduce our emissions.

“It will mean that we will reduce our emissions to the point where we will no longer be a big polluter any more.

“What the imposition of the carbon tax has done is make industry take stock of what it is currently doing and has forced it to look at doing things in a better way.

“It means companies are now looking at ways to use less energy which equates to less cost and a subsequent reduction in the tax that is being levied.

“That has been the intention of the tax and clearly from that perspective it is working and working well.”

If, as promised, the LNP under the leadership of Tony Abbott win government in September and repeal the carbon tax, Mr Kassulke said he would continue to forge ahead with the new biogas plant regardless.

“Initially we calculated the carbon tax would cost the company $26,000 per employee per year, but now we see things differently and are taking advantage of the situation,” he said.

“When all work is completed we will be able to set new standards in energy efficiency.

“We will use that much less in coal every month, that much less in electricity every month and will not have so many cost imposts, it is all positive.”


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