01.Big fines for electricity and gas retailers who don't pass on the savings
The ACCC says it will come down hard on electricity and gas retailers who fail to pass on savings resulting from the repeal of the carbon tax.
Failure to do so could result in fines of up to $1.1m per offence under new powers granted to the regulator.
"These businesses will be required to explain how the carbon tax repeal affected their input costs and how they are passing through the savings. These powers are in addition to the ACCC’s existing investigative powers and will ensure that businesses engaging in price exploitation are identified and enforcement action is taken against them," ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
"If suppliers of regulated goods put their prices up due to the carbon tax, these prices must similarly come down on repeal."
Suppliers also on notice
Businesses that supply electricity or gas to retailers will also be under scrutiny and could face fines amounting to 250% of any cost savings that aren’t passed through.
The ACCC says it will provide ongoing guidance on how the repeal of the carbon tax affects energy prices.
Are they passing on the savings?
If you think your energy supplier isn’t passing on the savings, contact them and ask for an explanation of the effect of the carbon tax repeal on the supplier’s prices. If you’re not satisfied with the answer, contact the ACCC Infocentre on 1300 302 502 or via its website, which offers information about what constitutes price exploitation by electricity and gas supplies as well as other businesses.
Under the new arrangements, businesses will be required to provide evidence to the ACCC to show that they have passed on the cost savings.
"The ACCC will be keeping a close eye on prices to make sure that all cost savings go to consumers," Mr Sims said.
New franchising code of conduct enforcement
The ACCC has also been slated for new powers to ensure that franchising code of conduct violations result in more than just a slap on the wrist.
An earlier CHOICE investigation found widespread code violations on the part of franchisors.
The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Industry Code Penalties) Bill is expected to be introduced in Parliament later this year.
A code violation by a franchisor or franchisee could mean an $8,500 fine issued by the ACCC or a penalty of up to $51,000 imposed by the Court.
Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson said the government is committed to:
- Ensuring franchisees and franchisors act in good faith in their dealings with each other.
- Strengthening the ACCC’s audit powers.
- Improving transparency around funds paid to franchisors for advertising.
- Improving disclosure of information by franchisors, including easy-to-understand information for prospective franchisees.
"The new code will aim to strike the right balance between the needs of franchisors and franchisees and the unique nature of the relationship between them," Mr Billson said in a statement.