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CPRS deal: Small business left exposed

By: Mr Peter Anderson, Chief Executive ACCI
30 November, 2009

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Australia’s largest and most representative business organisation, has called on the Australian Government and Federal Opposition to provide direct compensation for small to medium businesses facing up to 24% higher electricity costs should the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation be enacted by the federal parliament.

Despite what has been suggested, the negotiated package between the Government and Opposition did not provide any price compensation for Australia's hundreds of thousands of small businesses.

Even though the funding table allocates $1.1 billion for "SME electricity price impacts," the Prime Minister's statement says that this program is for "medium to large manufacturing" and "mining businesses." The statement detail confirms this limited and transitional eligibility.

Even in respect of these categories, the minimum threshold eligibility of "300 megawatt hours per year" is almost double the average consumption of a small business.

The Leader of the Opposition's statement said that this $1.1 billion compensation is for "small to medium mining and manufacturing businesses" sits at odds with the Prime Minister's statement that it is for "medium to large" manufacturing and mining.

The Leader of the Opposition's further statement that "an additional $1 billion will be made available to businesses in other, less exposed, industries" also requires explanation.

If there is "additional" compensation for small business in the package, it is not referred to in the detail released by the Government. Conversely, if this is a reference to the funds already allocated for investment in energy efficiency and low emission technologies in the previously announced Climate Change Action Fund, then it is not "additional" money, nor direct compensation for higher small business electricity prices.

Source: Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry