Small Business has a clean energy future

EXCLUSIVE: Federal Small Business Minister Senator Nick Sherry writes for My Business, explaining the impact of the carbon tax on small business.

Federal Small Business Minister Senator Nick Sherry writes for My Business

Small businesses will play a vital role in building Australia’s clean energy future.

As Australians, we pride ourselves on our innovation and our entrepreneurial skills.

We have a strong and vibrant small business sector, with many thousands of enterprises together accounting for 96 per cent of all businesses in Australia.

But running a small business can be tough, and the Government fully understands that making ends meet can be difficult.

We also recognise that for many, time and resources are scarce, and getting the chance to focus on issues outside of core business are limited.

So let me get straight to the point.

The Gillard Labor Government will support small business in making the transition to Australia’s low-pollution economy of the future.

The Government’s Clean Energy Future plan does not add any new red tape on small business.

None.

Small businesses will not have to count or monitor their carbon pollution or electricity use, or fill in a single form as a result of the introduction of price on pollution.

Under our plan, only the big polluters will have to pay the carbon price – not small businesses.

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But we also know that some of the big polluters may choose to pass these costs through to small businesses, including through electricity bills.

As the detailed Treasury modelling makes clear, these costs are expected to be modest for most small businesses.

Overall, the carbon price will see prices rise by less than one per cent – that’s less than a cent for every dollar spent.

This is less than the impact you sometimes get from things we take for granted, like exchange rate movements or fluctuations in the international oil price.

Most small businesses are expected to pass these costs on to their customers, which is why the Government’s plan includes a comprehensive package of household assistance.

Assistance under the Gillard Government’s plan is permanent and will increase, meaning millions of households will be better off – even after any costs passed on to them, including by small businesses.

Under the Gillard Labor Government’s Clean Energy Future plan, the instant asset write-off will be boosted to $6500 for small businesses with turnover less than $2 million a year.

This will free up cash flow and assist small business to grow and invest in new equipment, providing an immediate income tax deduction for the cost of eligible assets.

The Government is also establishing the $40 million Energy Efficiency Information Grants program to support small to medium businesses and community organisations in taking practical measures to reduce their energy costs.

This program will delivered through grants to industry associations and non-government organisations which have established relationships with small businesses. A further $5 million will be injected over four years to provide clean technology advice to small businesses.

These initiatives are in addition to work the Australian Government is already undertaking in partnership with small business, as we make the transition to a low pollution economy.

Clean Business Australia is investing $240 million in small and medium businesses – as well as owners of commercial office buildings – to improve energy and water efficiency and increase sustainability, with a focus on productivity and innovation.

This program is supporting the development of new technologies and services responding to climate change.

As a Labor Government, we are committed to leaving a better planet and economy for the next generation.

This will provide small business with many new opportunities to share in the benefits of Australia’s clean energy future.

For example, renewable energy is expected to grow to 40 per cent of Australia’s electricity supply by 2050, up from 10 per cent currently. This will create spin-off opportunities for a whole range of entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Small business can also choose to become carbon neutral, or to sell carbon neutral products and services. This can provide new marketing and sales opportunities, as well as reduce costs if energy efficiency measures are taken and resource use is reduced.

The Government has established Low Carbon Australia to administer the Carbon Neutral Program, which for the first time provides Australian Government certification to products and services that are verified as carbon neutral.

The Carbon Neutral Program encourages businesses to measure their carbon footprint, reduce their emissions where possible, and offset any remaining emissions.

Putting Australia on the path to our clean energy future is a historic reform to our economy that will cut pollution and drive innovation. By taking action now, we will cut 160 million tonnes of pollution in 2020 – that’s the equivalent of taking 45 million cars off our roads.

Labor Governments have a proud heritage in making the critical economic reforms – including Medicare, compulsory superannuation and the floating of the dollar – that lay the foundation for Australia to prosper and flourish.

Australia’s economy will continue to grow strongly at the same time as we cut pollution to reduce the risks of dangerous climate change. An extra 1.6 million new jobs are projected to be created by 2020 as we move to our low-pollution future.

It is not too late to reduce the risks of climate change, but it is vital that we act now. Taking action to tackle climate change just makes sense – for small business, and for all Australians.

Businesses seeking more information on our plan for a clean energy future can visit www.cleanenergyfuture.gov.au

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