SENIOR federal Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella has called on central Victorians to speak out about the impact the carbon tax is having on their businesses and lives.
The Coalition’s industry spokeswoman visited Castlemaine and Kyneton yesterday to discuss the implications of the carbon tax with small businesses.
“What we need is for people in business to not feel intimidated or afraid to speak up about the challenges they are going through and how the carbon tax is contributing to that,” Mrs Mirabella told the Bendigo Advertiser.
The Wangaratta-based MP visited Victoria Carpets at Castlemaine and Matheson’s Auto Electrics at Kyneton.
Victoria Carpets announced in April it would halve its Castlemaine workforce and made more than 30 people redundant.
Mrs Mirabella said business was hurting and the carbon tax only exacerbated the situation.
“Even if a business has done the right thing and invested significantly to become more competitive, they are getting whacked with this (carbon tax),” she said.
Bendigo MP Steve Gibbons said he was sympathetic to businesses that were battling the high Australian dollar but he rejected suggestions the economy would suffer under the carbon tax.
He said Victoria Carpets’ decision to reduce its workforce was unrelated to the carbon tax.
“I do not accept this rubbish that the downturn in the Australian economy, low consumer confidence and in particular the notion that Labor’s carbon pricing scheme – which at that stage had not been implemented – contributed to the company’s decision,” he said.
“The Australian economy is in sound condition, according to all the experts. It’s only Mrs Mirabella and Liberal and National parties that are constantly talking our economy down.”
Mrs Mirabella said the Coalition had vowed to axe the carbon tax if it won government.
She said any funding or grants associated with the tax – including the $1.2 billion Clean Technology Program that helps businesses and industry to reduce emissions and invest in clean energy – would go under a Coalition government.
“Any of the carbon tax compensation funds to industry would no longer be required,” she said.