NSW Business Chamber takes on ACCC over tax

The NSW Business Chamber says it will “stand between” Australia’s consumer watchdog and its members as the carbon tax comes into force.

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The chamber’s chief executive, Stephen Cartwright, said it wants to hear from any member who is being investigated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and may provide financial support to mount a legal defence if they are unfairly targeted.

“The Federal Government has provided the ACCC with additional funds to closely monitor businesses, with those who make false carbon price claims liable to fines for breaching the Competition and Consumer Act,” Mr Cartwright said in a statement on Saturday.

“The threat of an ACCC investigation is a bullying tactic to scare business owners into not passing on their cost increases caused by the carbon tax, and someone needs to stand up for them, and say ‘we are on your side’.”

But Federal Member for Kingsford Smith Peter Garrett said the ACCC ought to investigate any business small or large that seeks to take advantage of the carbon price and “jack up their prices”.

“The government has modelled very very carefully price impacts … and we have provided appropriate levels of assistance for the community to meet those cost impacts,” he told reporters in Sydney on Saturday.

Earlier this month, the ACCC launched a carbon price hotline and online claims form for people who suspect they’re being ripped off due to the tax, which will come into effect on Sunday.

So far it has received 200 complaints about attempts to lift the price of beer, taxis, pizza and even a swimming pool.

Most complaints have been resolved with warning letters, but four “intensive investigations” are underway.

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