DEBATE about the carbon tax is raging between politicians, business leaders and environmental groups in the Wimmera before the legislation takes effect on Sunday.
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Federal Member for Mallee John Forrest called the government ‘villains’ in Parliament on Tuesday. He said he believed the tax would hurt small businesses.

Business Horsham chairman Robin Barber agreed with Mr Forrest.

But Julia Andrew, of Stawell Climate Action Group, said the Federal Government should go further than setting the carbon price at $23 a tonne.

The government introduced the tax to cut carbon emissions and reduce the impact human activity has on the climate.

Mr Forrest said the tax would punish people in his electorate who were still recovering from 10 years of drought.

“People are hurting out there and this carbon tax is adding insult to injury,” he said.

He said manufacturers and big businesses would pass on the cost of the tax to consumers.

“Every business input and every household item will bear a component of this tax,” he said.

Mr Barber said Wimmera residents would bear the cost of the tax and should lobby politicians to remove it.

“It’s a half-cocked method of tackling climate change,” he said.

“If the government was serious it would install hot-water systems and solar panels on people’s homes and make the big polluters pay more.

“Manufacturers in Australia will move to China where it will be cheaper to produce goods.”

Ms Andrew said rising costs would encourage people to reduce their emissions.

“Hitting the hip pocket will change the way people consume energy,” she said.

She said carbon tax revenue needed to be invested in renewable energy.

“Otherwise it’s a big waste of time,” she said.

“We have an addiction to fossil fuels and that has to stop.

“The government needs to have a clearer plan on how it is going to switch to renewable energy.”

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