Carbon tax calculated for councils

By Paul Hemsley

The federal government will assist local councils to calculate their emissions and costs associated with the price of waste disposal.

Council landfills that produce more than 25000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per annum will be liable, where Carbon Price Mechanism (CPM) costs will need to be factored.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) convened the Carbon Price and Council Landfill National Forum over two days in Canberra to help councils understand the obligations associated with the CPM.

More than 40 councils were represented by about 120 delegates, who conversed with government regulators administering the carbon price to talk about their issues.

Representatives of the Clean Energy Regulator and the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency were available to provide information and demonstrate tools and resources for estimating and measuring carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

ALGA President, Genia McCaffery said the regulators and the department will go out and talk to individual councils and regional councils on request.

“We got some commitment from the government to go out and talk to councils out in their own areas rather than them having to go to a central space,” Ms McCaffery said.

Ms McCaffery said it has been “extremely beneficial” to have the online tools available at the forum for council staff to see and test.

“You do the calculation and if you’re liable, you need to charge a price because we said to councils they really should be careful and make sure they don’t just assume they’re not liable.”

“So we’ve very much been saying to councils don’t assume if you think you might be liable, make sure you’re not,” Ms McCaffery said.

According to Ms McCaffery, the price will vary from council to council because it starts off at $23 per tonne but administrative costs are added as well as reductions based on the offsets in particular landfills.

She said each council will have to work out their own price, which will vary from council to council.

The Clean Energy Regulator is responsible for administering the CPM, the National Greenhouse Energy Reporting Scheme, the Carbon Farming Initiative and the Renewable Energy Target, Ms McCaffery said.

She said having staff available to explain the technical requirements and how to meet them “in a practical sense, has been incredibly helpful”.

Ms McCaffery said councils heard from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Brenton Philip, who explained the commission’s approach to pricing issues and how it will be implementing measures to prevent price gouging to ensure fair prices.

“These are large landfills so those are big businesses and they’re run very efficiently and they will have to keep very tight control over the management of the landfills,” she said.

“It’s really about reporting and being confident when you do the reporting that you’ve got good back up for what you’re doing.”

Ms McCaffery said the forum had presentations from Albury City Council and Tweed Shire Council, who gave “practical, real life” examples of how they were preparing for the introduction of a carbon price.

“Albury City Council is regarded as one that’s most up to date in terms of getting to that point of organizing a price," she said.

She said giving people assistance is important and to ensure that they are in contact with the federal government agencies so they can talk about what issues they had.

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