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Carbon tax cold comfort for shops

DO you want carbon tax with that?

Consumers will pay more for food because of carbon tax-driven increases in refrigeration costs, industry operators warned yesterday.

Takeaway food shops, restaurants and supermarkets - in fact all places that refrigerate food - are expected to be hit by increases of up to 500% in the cost of re-gassing their refrigeration equipment.

Refrigeration maintenance owners and mechanics said that a bottle of the commonly used refrigeration gas R404 was expected to cost five times as much after the introduction of the carbon tax on July 1.

A 10kg bottle, worth $350, would jump to $1700, one said.

Operators estimated that the cost of re-gassing a large supermarket refrigeration unit would jump to anywhere from $78,000 to $100,000 because of the tax.

They said the increased costs of refrigeration, not only at retail level but also in production and processing, would likely be passed on to consumers in the cost of food.

They were sceptical that cash splashes for pensioners and families announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard would offset the cost of the carbon tax to consumers

"The flow-on effect of this is going to be absolutely phenomenal," one operator said.

"This will be a real wake-up for people. I don't know how much all other industries are going to be affected," said another.

The business owners and mechanics said consumers would also pay more to have their home fridges and air-conditioners re-gassed.

Re-gassing a household fridge would cost between 150 and 200% more, one said.

Another operator estimated that the cost of re-gassing a household air-conditioning system would jump from a couple of hundred dollars to $1100.

Their price increase estimates were based on information given to refrigeration maintenance business owners and mechanics by a gas manufacturing representative at a recent meeting hosted by a Sunshine Coast gas supplier.

One operator said he had been trying to get information out of the government for months about how the carbon tax would affect his business operations.

"The Australian government wants this to be shoved under the covers and nobody's allowed to know about it until it's done and dusted," he said.

"They've left it to the last minute to tell us about it.

"The Australian public should get up off their butts and tell the government to get off because we can't afford this s...t," he said.

Operators said they were unsure how they would stay in business.

"Instead of $1000 worth of gas in the back of your van, now you're going to need $10,000 to $12,000 of gas," one said.

They speculated there would be a rise in gas theft and black market sales.

Topics:  australian labor party, carbon tax, economy, food, julia gillard


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