Bricks and mortar tax impacts
Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Canberra's commercial building sector will be hit by budget blowouts and project delays as a result of costs passed on by the Gillard government's carbon tax, a major construction industry group says.
Master Builders Association ACT deputy executive director Jerry Howard estimates increased costs of building materials such as bricks, concrete and aluminium could add tens of thousands of dollars to large commercial projects. Preliminary estimates by the association indicate the cost of bricks will rise by 4 per cent, concrete by 3.2 per cent and steel by 3 per cent.
''The problem is, we still don't know what the cost impact is likely to be, or how we will be able to deal with it,'' Mr Howard said.
''We've seen figures that suggest it will add $3000 to building costs for the average house, so added costs for commercial buildings will be significantly higher.''
The Gillard government's carbon tax will take effect from 1 July this year. A carbon price, starting at $23 a tonne and rising to $29 by 2015, is intended to cut emissions through increased electricity and gas prices, and consumer goods that are emissions intensive to produce.
A spokesman for ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell said new energy efficiency legislation would ''create a framework of economic incentives'' to improve the energy efficiency of Canberra's commercial buildings.
The legislation will commence next year, ''with a limited number of commercial sector opportunities'', the spokesman said.
Earlier this week, the Gillard government baulked at quashing rumours that its promised Green Buildings tax breaks - worth about $1 billion, and intended to encourage developers to retrofit older buildings to improve energy efficient - will be dumped in next week's budget.
The tax breaks were promised by Prime Minister Julia Gillard during the 2010 election campaign, but no legislation has been introduced to deliver them. It was to start last year, but was delayed to allow more consultation with industry.
ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries has accused the government of ''trashing public confidence'' in action to cut greenhouse emissions, and ''failing to innovate'' on issues such as urban planning, energy programs and public transport.
''It's extraordinary when you look at the 2007 election result [for the Rudd government], and the enormous public goodwill toward action on climate change. The Gillard government has squandered that support,'' he said.
Senator Humphries, who as ACT chief minister oversaw development of a world-first greenhouse action plan for Canberra, has suggested bolder urban planning initiatives will be needed to meet the ACT government's target to cut greenhouse emissions by 40 per cent b y 2020.
''We need to look at better ways of reticulating electricity, and at well-targeted energy efficiency programs for the commercial sector … We need to be looking at how we can group buildings to share energy generation, and to encourage commercial companies to bid for funds for innovation. We should be looking for the best ideas.''