ACCC Censorship

The ACCC Welcome mat

The Finkelstein Solution is not quite the first attempt by the government to shore up its dogma on climate change by censorship.  It seems that they have had a go already at using the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as a propaganda weapon.

The ACCC has issued a guide, which makes no bones about having been directed  to crack the whip at anyone blaming the government’s new carbon tax for prices rises. It says:

The ACCC has been directed by the Australian Government to undertake a compliance and enforcement role in relation to claims made about the impact of a carbon price.

It has been suggested that the ACCC has threatened to prosecute anyone who mentions that its price rises are due to the carbon tax. Obviously, virtually every business on Australia is going to face at least some increase in its costs because of the carbon tax, unless this government falls within the next few months (tum tee tum tee tum) in which case the next Prime Minister Tony Abbott will probably repeal the legislation before it ever takes effect.  To be fair to the ACCC, however, it is not quite the poodle that the government would like it to be for its political ends, and it has stopped short of an outright ban on telling the truth about this issue.

Instead, it has issued thinly veiled threat. So thin that you can see the unmistakably face of communist-style repression leering right behind the platitudes about “fairness”; this is what the Guide says:

What the ACCC can do

The ACCC may ask you for information that supports any claims you choose to make about the impact of a carbon price on price rises for your goods or services.

The ACCC can do this in a number of ways – for example:

• by making a written request to the business for information

• by issuing a substantiation notice on the business in relation to a carbon price representation.

A substantiation notice is an investigative tool that the ACCC can issue to a business requesting documents and information that ‘substantiate’ claims the business has made in its promotion or advertising…

If you receive a substantiation notice, you must provide the ACCC with the information and documents that substantiate the claim within 21 days. This means that if you choose to make a claim about the impact of a carbon price on price rises for your products or services, you should keep all documents, including invoices and communications with your suppliers and other parties that you rely on…

Under the Act, the ACCC has a range of investigative and enforcement options for addressing misrepresentations and contravening conduct related to the carbon price. These include seeking financial penalties.

Now stop and think about this for a moment. Your business might involve aluminium products, which will be particularly hard-hit by the carbon tax. You have pay for to transport costs, which will also be hit. But neither the petrol station that sells the fuel, nor your aluminium component supplier, is going to give you a certificate to say anything about the cause of their prices hikes. So how on earth are you going to prove to the ACCC what everyone knows: that the carbon tax will impact almost everything?

Phone a friend? Oh no, don’t even think of it. The ACCC has a warning about that:

As you try to work out the impact of a carbon price on your input costs, you may be tempted to compare your circumstances with your competitors. While relevant industry information may assist you in your calculations, it is important that you set your own prices independently.

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.

For this reason, you should take great care when you engage in any discussions with your competitors about the effects of a carbon price.

So, unless you have the research resources of a medium-sized think-tank, the ACCC is warning you off the ground of suggesting to your customers that the reason your prices are going up is because Australian has a piss-poor government, controlled by 3rd rate nutters with a bee in their bonnet about some half-baked but now fully discredited theories about imminent climate doom, who cannot be arsed to actually check the temperature data for the last decade which demonstrates that these theories are a pile of horse manure, and who are imposing completely pointless fiscal damage to their own people in the final desperate months of their reign. Or even, more modestly, that your suppliers have passed the impact of the carbon tax on to you, and you must in turn pass it on to your customers.

So, if you are the business of selling, say, premium cosmetic products, it is OK to say

  • Worth that bit extra to save the environment
  • Worth that bit extra to take years off your looks
  • Worth that bit extra to look as beautiful as Julia
  • Worth that bit extra for our unique formula of hydrating, vitamin-enriched wombat’s earwax

Even though such statements are a load of rubbish, but not

  • Now costs that bit extra because of carbon tax

Even though that would be true. Unless of course you can prove that to the ACCC.  Which is not, frankly, very likely, because it is not what the government wants to hear.  And all the useful internet sites, like that of Jo Nova, or Watts Up With That, where you might hope to find the relevant figures, will have been silenced by the Finkelstein Solution.

Our best hope, until there is a change of government, is that the people who are charged with stuffing this propaganda crackdown down our throats will be no more competent than those charged with stuffing our ceilings full of pink batts.


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Filed under Climate, Politics

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