ACCC updates carbon price guides

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released an updated guide and web videos for businesses that want to make claims about the effect of the government’s carbon tax on their prices.

While the carbon tax will take effect on July 1, trucking businesses will be exempt from paying the tax on the fuel they use until July 1, 2014. Despite this, trucking businesses will still face increased costs as their other suppliers increase their prices.

The updated guide points out that businesses are not required to justify or explain their price increases.

‘As a business, you are entitled to increase your prices as you see fit – it is business as usual. The ACCC does not have a role in formally monitoring, setting or restricting price increases linked to the carbon price and cannot prevent a business from putting up its prices as a result of the carbon price,’ the guide says. ‘If you choose to claim that price increases are due to a particular cause, you should have confidence in your claim. This includes where you choose to link your price increases to a carbon price.

‘You should ensure any claim your business makes about the impact of the carbon price is truthful and has a reasonable basis.’

An example of a misleading claim would be one where a business contends the whole amount of a price increase is due to the carbon tax, when in fact only part of the total price increase is due to the tax. The ACCC can require businesses to provide information to support their claims about the impact of the carbon price on their prices.

The guide also warns businesses that they must adjust their prices independently.

‘As you try to work out the impact of the carbon tax on your input costs, you may be tempted to compare your circumstances with those of your competitors,’ it says. ‘You must determine your carbon costs and prices independently from your competitors. You should avoid discussions and, most importantly, agreements with competitors about the cost impact of the carbon tax.

‘It is an offence under the Act for competitors to enter into any contract, arrangement or understanding relating to the price of their goods or services or any price adjustments, including those attributable to a carbon price.’

The updated guide and web videos are available at www.accc.gov.au/carbon.

Revise rates now, ATA advises Mike Almond receives OAM

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