Yesterday's coverage of the carbon tax announcement focused heavily on how it will affect households, and stressed that only 500 of Australia’s biggest polluters will be paying under the pricing mechanism to be introduced 1 July 2012. So what about small business?
The Australian Retailers' Association says that the carbon tax spells ‘disaster’ for retail, but the Association is not known for having a sunny outlook.
A joint release from Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet and Minister for Small Business Senator Nick Sherry emphasises that ‘Small businesses will not have to count or monitor their carbon pollution or electricity use. They will not have to fill in a single form as part of the carbon price reform.’
Nevertheless, despite the fact that small businesses are not expected to be ‘materially affected’ by the carbon price the government has decided to extend the small business instant asset write-off threshold to $6,500. It’s also establishing a $40 million program to help small business (and community organisations) learn how to reduce energy costs, via grants to industry associations and non-government organisations. There will also be extra funding via business support programs including Supplier Advocates and Enterprise Connect.
The point of all this? To help small businesses ‘invest in new equipment and get advice to help grow their business sustainably’ — part of the longer term move to the government’s ‘Clean Energy Future ideals. Personally, I’m in favour of any move towards sustainability, even one as compromised as the Carbon Tax, but it sounds like the small business ‘advice’ stuff is going to be more bureaucracy to wade through (grants tend to go hand-in-hand with paperwork) and I wonder how many small businesses will actively pursue it.