Aerial mustering and firefighting could cost more under carbon tax

Aerial mustering and firefighting could cost more under carbon tax 

13 September 2011

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Australia — The regional aviation sector says mustering cattle and fighting bushfires from the air will cost more from July next year, if the carbon tax gets through Federal Parliament.

The 18 bills that make Clean Energy Future package will be introduced in Parliament today.

In it is an exemption for fuel used in emergency medical flights, like the Royal Flying Doctor Service, but not for aerial fire fighting.

Chief executive of the Regional Aviation Association, Paul Tyrrell, says airlines will have to put up ticket prices, because fuel could go up by 6 cents a litre.

“Across our members, our conservative estimate is around $11 million a year extra in fuel costs.”

But the policy think tank, the Climate Institute, says global oil prices are rising anyway, and play a greater role than carbon tax in pushing up airline ticket prices.

Emissions from Australian domestic air travel are expected to more than double by 2030, according to government figures.

The Climate Institute’s William McGoldrick welcomes the legislation as a way to set up a cleaner energy future.

“Aviation is one where there is a good opportunity for airlines to invest in alternative fuels and in much greater levels of fuel efficiency, and if they do that, they can dramatically cut their pollution liability and this about encouraging them to do that.”

Mustering, spraying and fertilising and fighting bushfires from the air have not won exemption from the carbon tax on fuel.

Phil Hurst of the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia, says he’ll keep lobbying.

“The Carbon tax is meant to change people’s behaviour to reduce people’s footprint environmentally, and yet the aviation element of it will apply to fire bombing aircraft who of course are involved in putting out emissions.”

He says it’s not sensible to exempt agriculture but include aerial crop protection and fertiliser.

“When you look at mouse baiting, at plague locust control, at the protection of crops from disease like rust, all of these are absolutely critical to agriculture…. and should be exempt.”

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