ONE hundred days after the government introduced a carbon price, power bill increases are the one visible impact.
The other dire predictions, from Senator Barnaby Joyce’s $100 roasts to the assertion by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, that the South Australian steel town of Whyalla would be ”wiped off the map”, are stubbornly refusing to come true.
The prices of beef and lamb have fallen since June, according to Meat and Livestock Australia. Last week a 1.7-kilogram leg of lamb from Woolworths online was going for just over $18.
Meanwhile, Whyalla’s main employer, Arrium – previously OneSteel – has been the target of an Asian takeover bid, a vote of confidence in the steel industry. The independent mayor, Jim Pollock, says the town is ”kicking goals”.
Across the country, the economic data is solid. The Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index rose from 95.6 in June to 98.2 in September. Unemployment has fallen from 5.3 per cent in June to 5.1 per cent in August – 2900 more Australians are employed now than before the carbon tax.
Finance firm TD Securities and the Melbourne Institute said last week they had ”still not noticed any broad-based impact of the July 1 introduction of carbon pricing spilling over into prices”.
But power bills are up. John Watson, the owner of the Copper Lantern Motel in Melbourne, expected his bills to rise about 10 per cent under the carbon price – the amount the government forecast for households.
Last month, he discovered it was considerably more. His provider has put a 2¢ carbon charge per kilowatt hour on top of the electricity cost. Because he is on a bargain tariff and his guests consume a lot of cheap, off-peak electricity, the carbon charge has added about 24 per cent to Mr Watson’s latest bill.
But power price rises are not always a bleak story. Another small business owner in the electorate of Flinders, Michael Carroll, who runs an injection moulding firm on the Mornington Peninsula, had a better result.
Initially told he faced a 47 per cent rise, he shopped around using a price comparison website. A different retailer offered him a favourable deal – his present rate locked in for three years. Though he is still wary about the carbon price, describing it as ”another nail in the coffin” for the manufacturing sector, he says he is ”a bit more confident” about his power costs.
Bill Lang, head of Small Business Australia, and Innes Willox, head of the Australian Industry Group, both say it will take a few power bill cycles for companies to figure out what to pass on to their customers.
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Photo: LOUIE DOUVIS
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.