Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet fields questions during a visit to Lismore to sell the carbon tax.
Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet fields questions during a visit to Lismore to sell the carbon tax.

Carbon tax to boost solar, farmers

THE region’s farmers and the solar industry will be major beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s carbon tax package, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said yesterday during a flying visit to Lismore.

After meeting with Carbon Accounting TAFE students and solar company Nickel Energy, Mr Combet said the region was well placed to benefit from the proposed $10 billion Clean Energy Fund and the government’s carbon farming package now before the Senate.

“Solar seems to have a lot of support here, but at the end of the day it depends on the innovative capacity of people in the community to have a look at it and think how the Northern Rivers can benefit,” he said.

“One of the really important things is our carbon farming initiative because agriculture is a very important part of the economy of the Northern Rivers.”

He said the initiative would allow farmers to change practices to earn additional revenue by reducing the use of fertilisers and/or storing carbon in the soil.

Mr Combet, who was in Lismore at the invitation of Page MP Janelle Saffin to explain the tax, predicted it would be an ‘uncomfortable and difficult debate’ in the run-up to the implementation of the scheme in mid-2012.

But “this is about Australia taking its part in tackling climate change by making an important environmental and economic reform by putting a price tag on carbon to provide an incentive to cut pollution and drive investment in clean energy sources,” he said.

“At the same time the government will provide assistance to households to meet modest price impacts and for the Northern Rivers that’s important because there are a lot of pensioners here who will benefit from a pension increase.”

After mingling with members of community groups and the business sector, Mr Combet said people were interested in the package’s details and understood the benefits for the region.

The only person unhappy with the proposed package who confronted the minister said he wanted more emphasis on transforming the economy to 100% renewable energy.

However Mr Combet replied: “I know this doesn’t satisfy all ambitions but in a democracy there are some things you can’t do. You have to try and take people with you.”



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