Appearing before a Senate inquiry in Canberra, the Australian Aluminium Council's executive director Miles Prosser said his members were in favour of a ‘well-designed’ carbon price.

"Our concern about the carbon price is the extent to which it affects only Australian producers and in only one direction," he told the select committee on the scrutiny of new taxes in Canberra.

The council represents 12 mining companies, including Rio Tinto Alcan, BHP Billiton Worsley Alumina and Alcoa Australia.

Mr Prosser said the sector emitted about 40Mt of carbon a year, a ‘significant’ portion of Australia's total. He denied miners were ‘freeloaders’ taking advantage of the Earth's natural resources without a thought for the future.

"We have never avoided the idea of a carbon price, we currently pay a carbon price in the context of the renewable energy target ... tens of millions of dollars a year," Mr Prosser said. "We are not seeking a no-cost outcome."

National Farmers' Federation spokesman Charles McElhone told the same inquiry his organisation was against any carbon tax proposal that jeopardised its international competitiveness.

"It is sometimes misconstrued that because agriculture's direct emissions have been excluded from the government's carbon pricing plan that the sector will be unaffected," he said. "This could not be further from the truth."

Mr McElhone said while farmers were environmentally conscious, up to 45% of their input costs were energy dependent. "We are very aware of climate risk, but at the same time we are also aware of the risk from the policy to curb climate change."

The Institute of Chartered Accountants argued a carbon price would start to transform Australia's economy for the better.

"It will provide business and investors with the certainty and confidence that they require to make long-term decisions about the future allocation of their capital," institute spokeswoman Geraldine McGarey said, adding a survey of the group's members last November showed the majority were in favour of taxing pollution.

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