Sporting clubs cheated by Carbon Tax

Sporting clubs cheated by Carbon Tax

Kelsey Smith

When the Federal Government’s carbon tax is implemented on July 1 of this year, it is unclear just how much impact the tax will have on sporting clubs around Australia.

It has been well publicised over the past 12 months that the tax will increase household bills by approximately $9.90 per week through increased power and grocery costs, yet despite sport being a significant part of the Australian landscape, there has been little talk about just how much local sporting clubs will be impacted from July.

During Parliament question time on March 20 of this year, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott questioned Prime Minister Julia Gillard about how not-for-profit sporting clubs will afford to pay power bills when they are hit with the tax.

According to Ms Gillard, families involved in their local sporting clubs will have more disposable income to put towards their club, and government programs and grants will be available to assist with the rising power bills.

“There will be millions of households that will receive more assistance than the average carbon price impact on them,” Ms Gillard said during question time.

Whilst families earning less than $80,000 a year will receive tax cuts of up to $300, Federal Government figures reveal families who support these clubs will receive on average $10.10 compensation per week for the increased household costs. This leaves them with just $0.20 cents left over to go towards their sporting club.

Executive Director of Clubs Victoria Richard Evans believes that the disposable income will not be put towards local sporting clubs but instead will go towards increased prices elsewhere.

“[The] extra disposable income will not go to sports clubs,” Mr Evans said. “It will go towards the morning coffee or the afternoon hot chocolate.”

Mr Evans said that while it is possible to pinpoint where the increased prices will come from, the monetary effect of the tax on sporting clubs is unknown.

“No question that power bills will increase – [by] how much, we don’t know yet,” he said.

“Sporting teams who use facilities will have increased operating costs on premises and therefore an increase in fees.”

Mr Evans believes the Federal Government has not addressed the fact that sporting clubs will have to cover the rising costs, and will therefore raise prices for people using the facilities.

“All [sporting clubs] require heavy use of power. Will clubs absorb the cost? I think you’ll find that the clear majority of clubs will increase prices. Clubs will ask users to pay more and ask members to pay more,” he said.

“This hasn’t been factored in by the government. It won’t change how they’ll [sporting clubs] use power or force them to use different forms of power. Everyone uses power.”

Mr Evans says the on top of the first hand costs like rising power bills, the carbon tax will also affect families on a secondary level through passed-on expenses, such as with sports clubs.

However Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, stresses that there are a number of elements under the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Future Plan that will assist these clubs, so members and communities do not feel the full impact of the tax.

“The Energy Efficiency Information Grants will provide $40 million in competitive grants to industry associations and non-government organisations (NGOs) that have established relationships with small businesses and community organisations,” Hon. Combet said.

“In addition . . . the Community Energy Efficiency Program will provide $200 million to local governing bodies and non-profit community organisations for projects that achieve measurable gains in energy efficiency or reduce energy consumption.

“The program will co-fund a range of local councils and community organisations to improve the energy efficiency of council and community-use buildings, facilities, and lighting.

“This could include recreation and tourism facilities such as sports grounds and stadiums, swimming pools, surf lifesaving and RSL clubs, campgrounds and showgrounds, social and community clubs, senior citizens’ centres, convention centres, memorial halls, tourism information centres, and community attractions.”

Results for first round Energy Efficiency Information Grants were released on May 17 but, despite being eligible, no sporting clubs will be receiving direct funds from the government.

Katherine Maxwell from the grants program said that despite no sporting clubs receiving grants in the first round, the Australian Conservation Foundation will be spreading its $988,419 grant across YMCA centres in Australia to assist sporting clubs in becoming more energy efficient.

It may be possible that sporting clubs have not been aware of the grants available to them from the government, as the effect of the carbon tax on sporting clubs is seemingly a secondary effect behind households and businesses.

Secretary of the Euroa Football and Netball Club in Victoria, Jacqui Thomson, said that she did not know about the grants that are available from the Federal Government.

“At this stage our club is not aware of any grants etc [sic] specifically targeting energy efficiency,” Ms Thomson said.

Andrew Mitton, from Bathurst Tennis Centre in NSW, said that he did not bother with Federal Government grants and focused on state grants available instead.

“We have received state support in the form of a sport and recreation grant but we did not look at the Federal grants that may have been available,” Mr Mitton said.

Both club members said they are not yet aware of how the carbon tax will impact on their respective clubs, but believe power bills will be the biggest influence on price rises.

“The carbon tax will have the effect on increasing costs to consumers who use gas and electricity and as such, as a user of these commodities our Football Netball Club will no doubt see an increase in the bills associated with these items,” Ms Thomson said.

Mr Mitton believes that lighting costs at his tennis centre will contribute most to the rise in power bills.

“It’s hard to gauge the effect it will have because we don’t know the exact cost rise yet,” Mr Mitton said. “With the rising petrol costs and household costs, we hold national tournaments here, and people may be reluctant to travel, so it may affect the income we generate from players and those who use the courts.”

It appears likely that clubs will have to ask volunteers, members and participants to assist with the anticipated price rises to their clubs.

Ms Thomson said that the Euroa FNC power bills are currently manageable, but that the carbon tax will put pressure on volunteers at the club.

“The club’s bills at the moment are such that with continued hard work from volunteers we are able to cover them, although an increase in these will of course place added strain on the efforts of these volunteers,” Ms Thomson said.

“Of course the club will need to look at the pricing of food, memberships etc [sic] in order to move in line with any increase in costs.”

Mr Mitton believes that the increased costs will most likely be put onto members and users of the sporting facilities.

“We may have to charge extra for players who use our lights which is not good for our members or the community,” Mr Mitton said.

Results for the Community Energy Efficiency Program are expected to be released in early June, and despite sporting clubs not making the list for first round grants, Hon. Combet believes they will take advantage of these government programs.

“Clubs are keen to ensure they leave as little environmental footprint as possible and will no doubt want [to] take advantage of further reducing their impact and seek assistance through the Community Energy Efficiency Program,” Hon. Combet said.

But Mr Evans, of Clubs Victoria, believes that the government programs are not enough to assist with the referred costs of the carbon tax.

“[Government programs] are tax payer’s money going towards bureaucracy and government making itself [sic] seen to be being accountable,” Mr Evans said.

“The environment should never be confused with economics. The tax will not change the way these [sporting clubs] think. These people already know how to look after the environment . . . it is evident through the water catchments and the football fields.”

Ms Thomson said she does not want to judge whether the government has done enough to assist sporting clubs in light of the carbon tax, as she cannot measure the full effect of the tax until it is implemented.

“At this stage we would be reluctant to comment here [about whether the government has done enough] as the actual impact on our club is yet to be seen,” Ms Thomson said. “The level which our club will be impacted may indeed prompt greater levels of support from Government.”

Despite questions being raised about the effects of the carbon tax on sporting clubs and the run-on effect to families, Hon. Combet believes that the carbon tax will act as a financial incentive to improve the state of Australia’s environment.

“Putting a price on carbon is an important part of the Federal Government’s plan for a prosperous clean energy future for this country,” Hon. Combet said.

“The carbon price will create a financial incentive to reduce carbon pollution that will flow through our economy.”

Hon. Combet believes sporting clubs already know how to be energy efficient, and work hard to look after the environment.

“Sporting organisations and clubs I have spoken to . . . are already very environmentally aware,” he said.

With mixed reviews about the carbon tax and its direct and secondary effects on sporting clubs and families, it is evident that the carbon tax’s true impact on sporting clubs will not be known until it is implemented in six weeks time.

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