The Federal Government cashed up ACCC coffers to ensure the consumer watchdog has adequate resources to deal with misleading claims from businesses about the impact of the carbon tax.


Speaking at a press conference in Melbourne held earlier this week, Treasurer Wayne Swan said the government is providing $12.8m new funding over four years to the ACCC to increase its power to deal with false carbon price claims from 1 July next year.


“The ACCC will be the cop on the beat out there to ensure that those that make these false claims are dealt with and dealt with the full force of the law,” he said.


While Swan acknowledged the carbon price would have an impact on the cost of living, he said it would be “very modest”.


“It will impact on the inflation rate by 0.7% when the scheme is introduced. It is a price which applies to the 500 largest polluters. It is not a tax on households, as is claimed by many, but it will have a small price impact in the supply chain and that is why we have put in place assistance for households, assistance households to ensure that they can meet those price impacts and for 6 million households the assistance will be there to meet the average price impact of the carbon price.”


Deputy Chair of the ACCC Peter Kell warned businesses that the misleading consumers will result in swift action.


“The ACCC has a range of tools and remedies under the Australian consumer law. Importantly, we can require businesses to substantiate the claims they make about the impact of the carbon price on their goods and services. Businesses should be prepared to back up their claims when the ACCC comes knocking or otherwise they may face hefty penalties.”


Companies could face penalties of up to $1.1m per contravention in relation to matters where consumers might be misled.