ACT to take $26.5m carbon tax hit

The Gillard government’s carbon tax will cost Canberrans more than $26.5 million, pushing cost of living above the national average, according to federal figures.

The figures, posted on the ACT Open Government website as part of a 138-page Freedom of Information package, show the tax will kick in at the $62,000 salary mark, with the biggest impact felt by households earning $130,000 to $156,000 a year.

According to the figures, this means more than 12,000 Canberra households in this higher income bracket will collectively lose $12 million as a result of the carbon tax.

The FoI package, released in response to a request by the ACT Opposition, also reveals the ACT department of Territory and Municipal Services will bear the brunt of price increases imposed by the carbon tax, and will need to find an additional $4.9 million in this year’s budget to deliver the same level of services.

That figure will rise to $6.7 million by 2015.

Health services will also be affected, with an increase of $4.2 million estimated for this year’s budget, increasing to $5.9 million by 2015.

In response to questions from The Canberra Times, an ACT Treasury spokesperson said the department had undertaken ”some preliminary analysis to assess the overall impact of the carbon price on the ACT’s budget position”.

This included potential ACT budget impacts ”related to electricity prices, gas prices, fuel prices and indirect prices”.

But ACT Greens environment spokesperson Shane Rattenbury has questioned whether the government has done enough to prepare Canberra for the impact of the carbon tax, which will take effect within two months.

A carbon price, starting at $23 a tonne and rising to $29 by 2015, will affect consumers through increases in electricity and gas prices, building materials such as steel, concrete and bricks, and other goods that are emissions intensive to produce.

”I think there is little doubt Canberra will be significantly affected because of our high percentage of high-income households. We are a relatively wealthy city, and only a minority of residents will have access to compensation under the scheme,” he said.

Mr Rattenbury said the government had ”moved too slowly” on reforms that would help households improve energy efficiency and cut potential costs associated with a carbon tax.

”There has been very much a wait and see approach,” he said.

An ACT Treasury document contained in the FoI package said additional cost to the ACT budget was likely to be about $20 million, ”largely reflecting the general price increases and increases in energy costs”.

”The ACT has the highest disposable average incomes in the country. We are also per capita the highest emitters due to this high income,” the Treasury document said. ”There will be additional costs to the ACT budget, reflecting the general price effect and energy needs in the provision of health and other services and street lighting. Cost of the government’s capital works program will increase.”

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