On 17 July 2014, the Parliament passed the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014.
Not only will this new legislation repeal the carbon tax instated by the previous government, but it will also provide the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) with new enforcement powers.
What are the new powers of the ACCC?
The ACCC will now be monitoring businesses that supply regulated goods, to ensure that all cost savings resulting from the carbon tax repeal are passed through to consumers.
Businesses that supply regulated goods will be prohibited from making false and misleading statements in relation to the carbon tax repeal and the consequent effect on the price for goods and services.
What are regulated goods?
Businesses that supply regulated goods, are businesses supplying electricity, natural gas, synthetic greenhouse gases (typically refrigerant gases) or synthetic greenhouse gas equipment (such as refrigerators and air-conditioners).
These businesses will be required to ensure that all cost savings attributable to the carbon tax repeal are passed to consumers.
What penalties may be imposed by the ACCC?
If a supplier of regulated goods fails to pass through all cost savings from the carbon tax repeal to consumers that business will face significant penalties.
The ACCC can impose a penalty of up to:
- $1.1 million per contravention for corporations breaching the new law; and
- $220,000 per contravention for an individual.
Other significant powers include an injunction, declaration or compensation order in favour of consumers.
What should you be looking out for now that the carbon tax has been repealed?
If you or your company is conducting business with another business who supplies regulated goods:
- It is important that you review the supplier’s material to make sure there are no misrepresentations on the carbon tax repeal.
- It is important that you review all material in relation to pricing with the supplier. Suppliers are responsible for ensuring that unit pricing is correct, and also that any cost saving made from upstream suppliers are accounted for.
- It is important that you review any contract in place with a supplier for carbon-related costs.
If your business is a supplier of regulated goods, and you have any questions in relation to the carbon tax repeal, please do not hesitate to contact me.