News story

Industry reacts to carbon tax

Thursday, 14 July 2011 ( #522 ) - Canberra, ACT, Australia
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced Australia's first-ever carbon tax.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced Australia's first-ever carbon tax. PHOTO: AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT
Sunday's announcement of Australia's first-ever carbon tax, by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, has unleashed a wave of disapproval and uncertainty throughout the business community despite government assurances that the economy will continue to grow as Australia embraces a clean energy future. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) says government's carbon tax policy will weaken the Australian economy and embed and redistribute costs for little if any environmental gain. Says ACCI chief executive officer Peter Anderson,"for business, this package represents big pain for little gain." Within the forklift industry there seems to be more concern over the uncertainty in the marketplace which the tax has created, rather than the tax itself. Many companies have adopted a 'wait and see' attitude, while some companies have highlighted the potential for new business opportunities. Manitou Australia MD Stuart Walker is "concerned by the potential impact of the carbon tax when you have certain industry bodies coming out and saying that they don't agree with (the) carbon tax proposed; however, I don't feel enough debate has been heard to make a final call on the proposal". Ben Rainsford, CEO of Task Forklifts, tells News that the introduction of the carbon tax has increased uncertainty within the market which ultimately flows onto the retail sector and, in essence, demotivates business and sales. "This uncertainty makes it hard to make future plans and more modelling by the government needs to be done before the full effect will be known." He adds that the tax may ultimately increase service and hire within the forklift industry and drive awareness for more environmentally friendly units such as Task's range of electric forklifts. It's a perspective shared by Wayne Adams of Allied Forklifts who says "in the long run, the tax may drive our industry more towards electric forklifts. This may generate many new business opportunities for the industry." However, he tells News that the new tax will further stall the growth of the forklift industry until consumers truly know the impact it has on their wealth. "In the meantime, we will wait and see what impact the tax has on our business before going on any spending spree." Crown Equipment MD (Australasia) Paul Jackson says the Australian forklift market, while showing moderate signs of growth, is still a very long way away from the highs experienced in unit deliveries prior to the turndown associated with the GFC. "Our belief is that the market will gravitate towards companies that can provide cleaner fuel solutions. "As Crown is the clear market leader in Australia for electric-powered lift trucks and is currently heavily involved in customer trials of new environmentally friendly fuel programs, we believe that the introduction of a carbon pollution tax, while hampering industry will provide growth opportunities for Crown." Less optimistic is Linde Material Handling chief executive Carl Smith: "Like many organisations and business leaders, I see the carbon tax introduction as another decision and sign of desperation by a government that has lost its way. "From a forklift industry perspective, I believe it will impact organisations we deal with, who will be forced to review their growth and spending plans, which could slow the strong projected market development number in the coming years." Supplier to the forklift industry, Chris Parkinson of Philadelphia Scientific, is more sanguine: "For businesses, the hardship will be felt by those that fail to adapt; the flip-side (is) those that do adapt will be more efficient and competitive. It is a good thing that it has been announced and that it has the support it needs to be passed in parliament, if only so that the uncertainty and a lot of the scaremongering around it can end." Supply chain specialist Ceva Logistics says it will continue to review the detail and likely impact on its Australian business and to customers of the carbon tax as part of its climate change plan. "This review will include working closely with industry associations to assess the effect (the) introduction of a carbon tax will have on the freight supply chain," says David Cliffe, general manager, marketing and communications. The company currently reports emissions from dedicated transport activity, warehouse materials handling equipment and electricity consumed through the Federal Government's National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2008. CEVA has adopted a company-wide sustainability program that aims to reduce the company's environmental impact and contribute to a clean energy future.