David Peever, the managing director of Rio Tinto in Australia, has decried the proposed carbon tax as potentially disastrous. He said that the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) of Kevin Rudd was not an appropriate starting point for discussions in 2011 as he apprised the Julia Gillard government on the demand for more generous compensation and industry protection.
He said that the CPRS design would have cost the export business of Rio Tinto $3 billion. Adding that while the industry accepted that changes must be made they should be given a lot more support in terms of compensation packages from the government.
Mr Peever is a member of the federal government’s business roundtable on climate change. He said that cutting pollution would be expensive and in a few cases the technology has not yet been adequately developed.
He reminded everyone that most businesses will not be able to pass on a carbon price to the customers and will have to absorb it. Saying that when conditions were favourable and margins were healthy this was not a problem, but when the cycle turned down it would be disastrous.
Greg Combet the Climate Change Minister said that Rio Tinto’s take on the carbon tax was an ambit claim. He said that the Government was extremely committed to ensuring that we've got a vibrant coal industry in the future and that our industries are competitive so we will discuss the details of any packages with the industry itself.