Wednesday 13 July 2011

Tony Abbott slams Julia Gillard over 'deceptive conduct'

Tony Abbott has compared Julia Gillard to potential carbon tax price gougers, saying her ''misleading and deceptive conduct'' was exposing households to massive new costs.

Tony AbbottThe attack came as the government handed the consumer watchdog a $13 million funding boost to crackdown on shonky firms that might seek to rort the carbon tax. A new dob-in line will be established and extra staff hired by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, with fines of up to $1.1 million for cheats.

But, as a series of opinion polls show the government struggling to convince voters of the merits of its carbon tax, Mr Abbott said Ms Gillard should be held to account for her own fraud on the Australian people. ''The most misleading and deceptive conduct has been by the prime minister herself,'' he said. ''The Prime Minister herself was misleading and deceptive before the election, and the deception continues.'

A new Galaxy poll in News Ltd papers today shows 63 per cent of voters want a new election before the carbon tax is introduced, while 68 per cent think they will be worse off. And an Essential Research poll out today reveals the government's decision to exempt petrol from the scheme has done little to improve perceptions of the plan, with the views of 52 per cent of respondents unchanged, and 11 per cent saying they are now less likely to support the plan. Ms Gillard said Australians would have their say on the carbon tax at the next election"We've got to get this done," she told ABC Radio. "In 2013, people will have lived under the system, direct experience, real experience. And then they will be able to decide."

Parliamentary secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury, warned businesses not to ''jack up prices'' unnecessarily. ''If you seek to use this as an opportunity to rip off your customers then you will feel the full force of the law,'' he said.

ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell said the agency was well resourced to take quick and decisive action against offending business with the extra money going towards a dedicated investigative team. ''The message from the ACCC to businesses is simple don't mislead your customers about price increases or you will pay the price,'' he said.

Treasurer Wayne Swan responded to the opinion polls by saying the carbon tax package was ''Labor to the bootstraps''. ''I don't know what I would say to my children or my grandchildren in twenty years' time if I decided that we shouldn't go down the road of pricing carbon because I was fearful of bad opinion polls,'' he said.

The Treasurer said the introduction of a carbon price would give dirty coal fired power stations certainty about their future and help the nation plan for energy security. Ms Gillard's assurances on the ACCC's ability to stop price gouging are in stark contrast to her position ahead of the GST's introduction.

"The second Orwellian truth that we are asked to believe is that the ACCC and Professor Fels will be lurking behind every supermarket item in every aisle, that they will watch every price and that there will be no price exploitation,'' she said.

"Every Australian knows that there is no way in the world any government bureaucracy can be in every store and at every point where a service is provided monitoring prices increases - we know that.

"There is no effective mechanism to stop price exploitation - Orwellian truth No. 2 knocked over.''

Author | Source | Joe Kelly | The Auustralian | July 13th 2011 

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