Battle lines drawn by coast MPs

INDEPENDENT MP for Lyne Rob Oakeshott has accepted Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker’s challenge for a debate on the Federal Government’s proposed carbon tax.

Mr Hartsuyker challenged Mr Oakeshott to the debate on July 18.

Mr Oakeshott was a member of the Federal Multi Party Climate Change Committee which helped to draft the tax, which is designed to transform into an emissions trading scheme three years after its introduction

The Lyne MP has arranged a number of community forums across his electorate over the next month and he has offered to make one of them available to debate Mr Hartsuyker.

Mr Oakeshott said he was looking forward to the National Party MP’s explanation of the Coalition’s direct action plan for carbon abatement.

Mr Hartsuyker has said he is considering the offer but wants a series of debates across the Lyne and Cowper electorates and wants a number of conditions.

He wants a large venue with unrestricted entry and time for questions and answers and said that the Port Panthers Club had offered its premises for the first of the debates.

A spokeswoman for Mr Oakeshott said yesterday they would be holding their forums in Lyne in school and community halls and had offered Mr Hartsuyker the opportunity to select whichever community meeting suited his schedule for the debate, with the first meetings due to be held on August 8, 9, and 11.

She said she did not think licensed premises would be suitable for the meetings as they wanted to make them available to all members of the community including families.

She said she thought it unlikely Mr Oakeshott would become involved in a series of debates outside his own electorate.

Mr Hartsuyker said on Monday he believed the carbon tax would drive up the cost of living for North Coast families and would threaten many businesses and in the end was going to cost local jobs.

Initial analysis of the effect of the proposed carbon tax on the North Coast indicated that the region, with its high percentage of pensioners and retirees and sub-tropical climate, would benefit more than some other regions from the Federal Labor government’s compensation packages and support for ‘green’ energy sources.

The plan, which prices carbon at $23 a tonne and aims to reduce carbon emissions by 5% by 2020, takes money from polluting industries like coal-fired power stations to encourage reduced carbon emissions.

It gives tax cuts and extra welfare payments to low and middle income earners to compensate for increases in the cost of living caused by the tax.

The plan includes a number of other economic reforms, including raising the tax-free threshold to $18,000, another change which is also expected to benefit the Coffs Coast, with its high percentage of low-income earners.

The government says the plan means that nine out of 10 households will receive increased assistance, either from tax cuts or increased payments.

The Federal Opposition, which also supports the 5% emission reduction goal, has an alternative plan which involves offering financial support to polluting companies for reducing their emissions through the Emissions Reduction Fund and offering a tendering process for funding for projects to reduce carbon emissions and deliver environmental benefits.

The centrepiece of the Coalition’s direct action plan is capturing carbon in farm soils and paying farmers a suggested $10 a tonne. The Coalition plan will also be supported by taxpayer dollars.

The difference between the two schemes is that the Government is providing a stick to push polluters into reducing emissions and the Coalition is proposing a carrot to lure them into doing the same thing.

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Severe thunderstorm warning issued for this afternoon

Large hailstones, heavy rainfall and damaging winds possible

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