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As a nation, Australia has one of the world’s most carbon-intensive economies, producing more than 20 tons of CO2 per person – ahead of the United States, Canada and even Saudi Arabia. In October, Australia caught up with much of the rest of the world by putting a tax on carbon dioxide production. The Australian Lower House has now passed all 19 carbon tax bills, which means Australia’s 500 largest corporations will pay $23 for each ton of carbon they produce. 

The full implications of this milestone legislation still remain to be seen, but we expect the price of most goods and services to rise – from electricity and gas to groceries and transportation. To soften the blow, the Government has promised a “Household Impact Compensation” that should leave 9 out of 10 households better off, but the overall message is clear: carbon will cost.

Australian airlines across the board have expressed concern over the impact of the carbon tax – in fact Australia’s regional airlines believe it will force them to cut services to small and regional town centers, leaving many workers locked in relatively remote locations. Meanwhile, bigger airlines like Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin say they will have no choice but to increase ticket prices to cover the cost.

For those working in regional Australia, a further rise in the cost of travel and gas is an unwelcome addition to the already high cost of living in Australia. Mercer Corporation‘s annual survey shows that the cost of living in Australian cities has been quickly rising over the past year, with 6 cities now in the top 100 globally.

However, the carbon tax debate has also galvanized the community, with many weighing the cost of living and transportation on the one hand and strong environmental action and sustainability on the other. It’s got me thinking – are we on the brink of a workshifting climate change here in Australia?

Workshifting is a perfect alternative to physical travel, benefiting employees and employers alike. From a business point of view, it is a cost saving that also results in increased productivity and efficiency. For employees, it represents flexible working and a greater work-life balance.

Today, collaboration products allow remotely located workers to stay in touch and connect almost as well as if they were physically in the same office. With today’s technology, all that is required is an Internet-enabled computer and a telephone. Coupled with the planned rollout of 28 new fiber locations by the National Broadband Network, bringing high-speed Internet and the prospect of workshifting to thousands more Australians across the country, this could be the last boost Australians need to make remote work popular – the tools already exist; it’s just a matter of doing.

Photo Credit: kirantr

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  • http://www.directionstech.com.au April Neylan

    Great article, Seamus. I am disturbed by the statistics that as a nation, Australia has one of the world’s most carbon-intensive economies, producing more than 20 tons of CO2 per person – ahead of the United States, Canada and even Saudi Arabia. While I think that theoretically the carbon tax is a good idea, in reality, those 500 corporations are more interested in making money than finding greener alternatives and it’s ultimately the public that will suffer :(

  • Robert Harris

    Timing.  I recently have attended some conferences re:  startup business models.  In one conference, the panelist spoke about the requirements for a good application to meet the needs of a large swath of people  to go viral.  An example would be Google maps.  The application or solution needs a large receptive audience ready to employ the solution.  I think in Aus. the conditions are joining to become a “perfect storm” for the demand of workshifting.  In the past, the workplace was not ready.  Then workers felt marginalised and not promotable. But now the conditions are ripe for wide adaptation of workshifting.  To include environmental drivers to support changed commute patterns.  A good article Seamus.