MEATWORKS MEETING: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott faces the press pack at JBS Australia’s processing plant at Dinmore yesterday alongside LNP candidate for Blair Teresa Harding and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey (rear).
MEATWORKS MEETING: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott faces the press pack at JBS Australia’s processing plant at Dinmore yesterday alongside LNP candidate for Blair Teresa Harding and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey (rear). David Nielsen

Abbott takes the knife to carbon tax at abattoir

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott chose to start his month-long campaign to become prime minister in Ipswich - and pledged to return to the city before voters head to the polls.

Speaking during a visit to the JBS Australia meat plant at Dinmore on Monday, Mr Abbott insisted the LNP was competitive in Blair, which Labor took from the Coalition in 2007 and held in 2010.

He was joined by LNP candidate for Blair Teresa Harding and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey as he toured the meatworks, which was hit by the introduction of the carbon tax.

Mr Abbott said a Coalition government would scrap the carbon tax, saving the JBS plant $5 million a year.

"When I say we will get rid of the carbon tax I am fair dinkum," he said. "It will be the first item of business. Repealing the carbon tax means that this plant alone will be $5 million a year more competitive.

"By the time this plant has paid its direct carbon tax costs, by the time it's paid higher electricity and gas prices because of the carbon tax, it's up to $5 million in costs their competitors don't face."

Mr Abbott also heaped praise on local candidate Ms Harding.

"She won't be a number, she won't just be Canberra's mouthpiece in Blair, and she will be Blair's voice in Canberra," he said. "We want to be competitive in every seat, including seats like Blair. I think we certainly are competitive here because Teresa is such a good candidate.

"You'll see me again no doubt, in Blair. But I suspect most electorates in the great state of Queensland will see me and Joe and Julie and Warren Truss over the next few weeks."

Ms Harding said Mr Abbott was sending a clear signal to Ipswich voters.

"I think he shows the Coalition commitment to Blair by coming out here on day one of the campaign," she said.

Blair's sitting Labor MP, Shayne Neumann, said Mr Abbott couldn't explain how he had come to the $5 million figure quoted at Dinmore. He said the Dinmore plant was given a $4.4 million federal grant in January to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 81%, saving the company $1.1 million a year.

Mr Neumann said those emission reductions had now put the plant under the carbon tax threshold.

"It's good for the economy, the environment and local jobs and Tony Abbott is not interested in the reduction of carbon emissions," he said.

"He has flopped on his first day of the campaign.

"He comes out to Ipswich and fudges the figures, can't explain the figures and makes bold statements and claims."

He also told Ipswich voters they could expect to see Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on the campaign trail in Ipswich before the campaign was over.

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