By JR on Monday, November 07, 2011
With production shifting to much more polluting facilities in China
A CHEMICAL company that operates in Prime Minister Julia Gillard's electorate says it will shelve a $1 billion world-class expansion because of the carbon tax.
With the Senate set to approve the historic climate change policy tomorrow, Coogee Chemicals says it also threatens the long-term sustainability and jobs at the nation's only methanol factory in Laverton North.
Coogee Chemicals chairman Gordon Martin told the Herald Sun the company had been planning a new $1 billion plant in country Victoria, southern Queensland or in NSW around the seat held by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet.
It would have created 150 high-skilled jobs and export earnings of $14 billion, but Mr Martin said the carbon tax made it "uncompetitive and unviable". "The carbon tax will stop a significant Australian project that would value-add to Australia's abundant gas resource and jeopardise the long-term sustainability of the existing methanol plant at Laverton," he said.
The existing plant is in Ms Gillard's western suburbs seat of Lalor, where she will host Community Cabinet on Wednesday. The Laverton factory takes natural gas from Bass Strait and turns it into clear, colourless liquid called methanol.
Plant manager Grant Lukey said "every home will have something that includes methanol".
It is a critical ingredient for items such as particle board for building, table tops, aerosols, windshield wiper fluid, plastic soft drink bottles, paint, cycling tights and mattress foam.
Overseas it is an alternative to ethanol for car fuel, particularly in China.
Dr Lukey said the Laverton factory had the lowest carbon dioxide emissions per tonne of any methanol plant in the world. He said emissions were four-times greater at coal-based plants in China where 11 were built this year. "We've spent 16 years developing the best technology and now a world-scale project is going to go belly-up," Dr Lukey said.
Opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt blamed the Government. "There couldn't be a plainer example of the stupidity of the carbon tax than losing a $1 billion investment with all of the associated jobs while sending global emissions up rather than down," Mr Hunt said.
Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan said when the Senate passed the carbon tax it would be "a historic day for Australia". "As well as a cleaner environment, it will deliver better jobs for our children and grandchildren and a more secure economic future," Mr Swan said. "It's not an easy reform but it's the type of responsible, forward-looking policy that this Government is committed to delivering."
A tax of $23 a tonne will be paid by the top 500 polluters from July 1. Industry gets $3 billion a year in compensation and households $5 billion in tax cuts and welfare.