Consumer Watchdog Barks Over Business Passing On Carbon Price Savings

Now that carbon pricing has been abolished by the Senate, the next big test for the Abbott Government is whether voters notice a few extra dollars in their pocket after years of being told by the Coalition that the ALP’s tax added $550 to household bills.

The biggest one will be electricity, especially since the NSW Government made power companies put a little note on your bill declaring how much the carbon tax was adding to the cost. Power makes up about half that $550 estimate.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is being given new powers to take action against businesses that fail to pass through all cost savings attributable to the carbon tax repeal.

It applies to “regulated goods” – electricity, natural gas, synthetic greenhouse gases (typically refrigerant gases) or synthetic greenhouse gas equipment (such as refrigerators and air-conditioners) – the types of businesses that often appeared in the media howling loudly about having to put up prices because of the tax.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says he’ll be watching those businesses to make sure consumers get their cash back.

“If they fail to do so, the ACCC will take enforcement action against them and seek serious penalties from the courts.”

Suppliers in the key areas of electricity, natural gas or a bulk importer of synthetic greenhouse gas that engage in price exploitation will also be subject to a penalty equal to 250 per cent of the cost savings that were not passed through.

“The ACCC will be keeping a close eye on prices to make sure that all cost savings go to consumers,” Mr Sims said. “These businesses will be required to explain how the carbon tax repeal affected their input costs and how they are passing through the savings.”

Businesses that retail electricity and natural gas, produce electricity and sell into wholesale markets or bulk import synthetic greenhouse gas will be required to provide evidence to the ACCC to show that they have passed on the cost savings.

Anyone concerned they’re getting dudded can call the ACCC’s carbon complaints hotline on 1300 303 609 or via its website.

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