INDEPENDENTS Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor have welcomed the carbon pricing package saying it would inject funds into agriculture to help make farming more profitable, as improved farming methods made land more productive.
Mr Windsor said the government’s package and the act of putting a price on carbon, sent strong messages to heavy emitting polluters about the need to reform current behaviours.
But he said it also signalled the “enormous opportunity” to reap rewards from a cleaner environment.
“To those who say regional Australia is going to be penalised by this package, I encourage them to take a closer look,” he said.
Mr Winsor said the packaged contained enormous opportunities through areas of innovation, such as solar power generation, that are expected to generate future employment.
“Innovation will take place once the signals are received,” he said.
“There’s enormous opportunity here and I’m very proud to be part of this process.”
Mr Oakeshott said he expected the legislation to pass through parliament and be debated in the next few months.
A government advertising campaign is expected to start in the next few weeks.
Mr Windsor was also pleased the proposed carbon tax excluded fuels for cars, light commercial vehicles and heavy vehicles and fuels used in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.
He believes those exclusions will considerably reduce the tax’s impact on farm input costs.
He is also pleased the tax won’t apply to agricultural emissions.
“For years, governments have treated the agriculture industry as a poor cousin - that’s about to change,” Mr Windsor said.
“Now that farmers have been recognised as a key part of the effort to address climate change, the agriculture industry can look forward to better treatment through the programs associated with the package.
“These initiatives will drive improvements in the natural environment, while also increasing the carbon content of soil.
“That can only improve the productivity of farm land.”
Fellow Independent, Andrew Wilkie, reiterated his support for the Federal Government’s “clean energy package”.
“The Government’s done a good job, in particular by the way it will establish a mechanism with modest start-up settings and the capacity to evolve as our main trading partners embrace comparable climate change policies,” he said.
Mr Wilkie said Tasmania has an overwhelming reliance on clean Hydro power and is well positioned to benefit from the clean energy package.
“On balance I think the Federal Government’s got the settings about right on this.
“Yes, there are some compromises and yes, some high income earners will be disadvantaged.
“But we do have to clean up our environment and prepare for the future global economy and this package is a positive step towards achieving that.
“One day, I’ll be proud to explain to my two young children that it was this Parliament that finally did something to address climate change.”
Key agricultural features of the package for agriculture: A 15 percent tax rebate on machinery used in no-till or direct-drill farming methods that will not only assist in carbon sequestration but also helping to reduce the impact of drought. It also puts an extra $37,500 in the pocket of a farmer who buys a $250,000 machine. Direct funding to help farmers store more carbon in their soil, with a particular focus on new farming technologies, including biochar, biofuels and new crop/grazing species. Funding for research into the development of a system to measure the amount of carbon stored in soil. New agriculture industry jobs for carbon service providers, who’ll help farmers obtain funding for projects that store carbon in soil. Funding to help control weeds, pests and feral animals. Funding for local Natural Resource Management organisations to guide reforestation and revegetation projects and develop climate change scenarios that’ll help farmers adapt. Guidelines to prevent carbon forests from being established on existing agricultural land or from taking water from farms and other water users. An independent board to oversee these initiatives.