The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet was concerned that prices being circulated by wholesale refrigerant gas suppliers show significant hikes unrelated to carbon pricing.
In many cases, these price rises have been similar in quantum across different wholesalers.
For example, a refrigerant like R22 has no carbon price attached to it, yet one refrigerant gas supplier has hiked up prices for R22 by over $60 a kilogram.
Another common refrigerant gas, R404A has an equivalent carbon price of $75 per kilogram, yet an increase of $285 has been quoted as the supplier’s list price.
Wholesale refrigerant gas suppliers must explain their price increases and be transparent with the public and their customers about what costs they are actually passing on.
Customers should also be reminded that the use of refrigerants in consumer products is generally small with consequently small price impacts.
For example, the price of a domestic fridge would increase by around $4 as a result of the equivalent carbon price.
All of these cost impacts are accounted for in the Government’s Household Assistance Package.
The Government has given $12.8 million to the ACCC to crack down on businesses that seek to gouge their customers by making misleading claims about the impact of putting a price on carbon pollution and trying to hide other price increases.
If suppliers make false carbon price claims they run the risk of breaching the Competition and Consumer Act and could be exposed to a $1.1 million fine for misleading consumers.
Their directors and senior officers could also face fines of up to $220000 as well as being disqualified from running a company.
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