But Mr Partridge and other business leaders said the added impost could force operations offshore, warning “if they put the price up more, we will import more”.
“When we had a carbon tax, it cost us about $1 a gigajoule, which, adjusted at the time was about $4-5 a gigajoule,” he said.
“Since then, we are now paying $10-13 a gigajoule.”
Brickworks already imports two million bricks a month from Italy and Spain, Mr Partridge said, warning any price hike may force the company to “push that higher”.
Ruffy Geminder, the biggest shareholder in packaging manufacturer Pact Group and the group’s chairman, said he was “all in” for a more sustainable platform that “puts the health of the planet at the centre of everything we do”.
“The challenge is how do we get there without the considerable damage that we are creating along the way,” he said.
“Government needs to help support a platform which will alleviate demand in the current system and in effect reduce cost.”
We need to find ways to lower business costs so we can produce more goods, provide more jobs and ensure a resilient economy.
Todd Barlow, Washington H. Soul Pattinson
Todd Barlow, managing director at Washington H. Soul Pattinson, the biggest shareholder in Brickworks, said it was important for Australia’s future to continue to support the manufacturing sector and not become just a services-based economy.
“The rising cost of energy, high labour costs and regulatory red-tape is already impacting Australia’s global competitiveness,” he said.
“If we continue to add costs to doing business in Australia, manufacturers will simply move offshore. This not only impacts Australia’s prosperity, it potentially moves industry to jurisdictions where environmental controls might be far weaker.
“We need to find ways to lower business costs so we can produce more goods, provide more jobs and ensure a resilient economy,” he said.
A spokesman for the explosives maker Orica said the company had not incurred material carbon costs under the current safeguard mechanism, and undertakes emission reduction abatement at its Australian production facilities.
“The full detail of Labor’s climate policies are still to be finalised, particularly measures for trade exposed businesses, and this will be a matter for further negotiations only if the Labor Party is elected in May. We will continue to monitor policy development as the campaign unfolds,” the spokesman said.
Business reporter for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
Darren is the mining and agribusiness reporter for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.