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The tax whose name shall not be spoken

Blitzed in the polls, the Australian Labor Party have picked the communist solution — straight from the Soviet rule book of Free Speech.  Goskomizdat revived as a kind of Goskoshopfront. It’s more desperate and simplistic band-aid legislation to benefit the ruling class and not the people. Surprisingly, the media seems to be silent on this scandalous attack on free-speech.

The Gillard Government tells us the tax’s effect will be minimal, but they are clearly terrified of the blowback.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been directed to enforce accurate business promotions with a $1.1m dollar fine, and team of 23 “carbon cops”, to stop Australian businesses from posting any signs telling the public how much extra they are paying due to the Carbon Tax, or having a “Pretax sale”.  Imagine the travesty of transparently letting customers see a breakdown of their invoice, or of warning customers of price rises to come?

A  simple repeated message like the one below can take on a life of its own. (And we all know what animal the crowd will think of if we say: “Don’t think of an elephant”):

We are not charging you 15% more to pay the carbon tax. We are charging you 15% more to pay for a new tax accountant to keep our tax the same as it was before.

Of course, some will wave this away by explaining that they just want to stop people making incorrect claims.  But do the smell test, and see who this legislation is designed to protect. What customer would be hurt by buying goods cheaper pre-tax? What customer suffers if they “think” the price increase they pay is due to the Carbon Tax, when it’s really partly due to the Mining Tax or creeping inflation? The truth is that the only people “hurt” by a mistaken tax increase claim, o-the-tyranny, would be the an unpopular rulers.

If a company mistakenly blames other price rises on a Tax that had a popular mandate, the company would a) be advertising how much it’s prices had increased, and b) be seen as whinging, not caring about “pollution” and not being a team player. If Gillard had done what she promised (that is, wait for a community consensus on the climate) the whole problem of naughty anti-c-tax-business-signage would have been avoided, not least because that consensus would never have happened, but because even if it had, what business would want to look like a sour-puss, complaining about a fair tax that most of the community saw a need for?

Rulings like this one don’t serve the country. It’s an advertisement for rulers interested in their own welfare above that of their citizens.

For those who argue the ACCC is largely toothless, bear in mind, that no company need be fined $1.1million to have a stifling effect. Calculating the exact cost of the Carbon Tax will be near impossible for anyone other than the direct importer or producer (as Willis Eschenbach points out on Watts Up). Further down the chain, people will have to rely on statements from their suppliers (if any are provided). Few companies will want to push their luck. Most will underestimate the costs, or say nothing.

But censorship has ways of having the opposite effect. If companies can’t advertise that customers  “buy air conditioners now, because the prices will rise by x% next month” they can still make contact with journalists and bloggers who can remind the public to put their orders in before June 30th. Unfortunately, those journalists may now find it very hard to get named quotes, or press releases that list dollar estimates. Can someone tell me, here in the Socialist States of Australia, whether journalists are still allowed to list “anonymous sources” or publish industry rumours?

There is easy potential for shop-sign and invoicing dissent. Where previously in a land with free speech there might have been dull annoying messages like “Costs up 10% due to the Carbon Tax”, now there is all kinds of potential for creative skullduggery and political sabotage. Watts Up kicked off the call for alternative “permitted” signs. So here are a few on-the-silly-side from me. (Click for full size images).



Our prices did NOT rise by 12% because of the Carbon Tax. (And If they had, we wouldn’t be able to tell you).


We are not charging you 15% more to pay the carbon tax. We are charging you 15% more to pay for a new tax accountant to keep our tax the same as it was before.




Our costs have risen by 10,000,000 Klingon Darseks* due to the carbon tax. *By law, we are not allowed to print that in Australian dollars.


There will be no price rises due to the carbon tax in the business I used to manage. We've closed.


And some bumper stickers or rubber stampers from Speedy:


The carbon tax:

Julia can’t tell you what it does,

and I can’t tell you what it costs.


 Don’t waste your money

that’s the government’s job


Our prices have not risen.   

Your standard of living has fallen.


Prices so low you’ll almost think there wasn’t a carbon tax.


No planets were saved in the collection of this tax.


Prices have not increased due to the carbon tax.

You are imagining it.


Zero carbon tax impact*

(*Apart from items requiring energy, transportation or physical materials in their production, distribution and sales.)





Credit to commenters in WUWT

Dave says:
November 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm

The ACCC helpfully suggests you can just tell your customers you’ve raised prices because “the overall cost of running (your) business has increased”.

It’s all very Orwellian. It’s the tax whose name cannot be spoken.


Alix James says:
November 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm

All too subtle.

Something like “WE didn’t increase the price”.

Can you be fined for a single capital? Bold font? Italics?

Damn, 2011 is starting to feel like 1929 all over again. The Not-a-carbon-tax Tax seems to be Australian for Smoot-Hawley.


The legal  quagmire offers some loopholes

Geoff Sherrington points out the ACCC can’t investigate an individual (only a business), unless a relevant business posts an objection, but then there are plenty of bankers and renewable firms who just might post an objection aren’t there?

But this line of thinking is worth exploring.

Geoff Sherrington says:
November 17, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Australian Consumer Law. Start here and follow the trail. http://www.consumerlaw.gov.au/content/Content.aspx?doc=the_acl.htm

An Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) [PDF 217KB] [RTF 236KB] signed by the Council of Australian Governments underpins the establishment of the ACL. This mechanism avoids Parliamentary debate. Some extraxts from ACXL papers follow:

C. The objective of the new national consumer policy framework is to improve consumer wellbeing through consumer empowerment and protection, to foster effective competition and to enable the confident participation of consumers in markets in which both consumers and suppliers trade fairly.
D. This objective is supported by six operational objectives:
1) to ensure that consumers are sufficiently well‐informed to benefit from and stimulate effective competition;
2) to ensure that goods and services are safe and fit for the purposes for which they were sold;
3) to prevent practices that are unfair;
4) to meet the needs of those consumers who are most vulnerable or are at the greatest disadvantage;
5) to provide accessible and timely redress where consumer detriment has occurred; and
6) to promote proportionate, risk‐based enforcement.

E. The new national consumer policy framework consists of the following key elements:
1) a national consumer protection law based on the existing consumer protection provisions of the Trade Practices Act and also including:‐
provisions regulating unfair contract terms,
new enforcement and redress powers, and
new provisions based on best practice in State and Territory consumer protection laws;
2) a new national product safety regulatory and enforcement regime; and
3) improved enforcement cooperation and information sharing arrangements between Commonwealth, State and Territory Agencies.

On a quick read, the law applies only to businesses, as did the Trade Practices Act.
The ACCC does not seem to have powers to investigate the conduct of an individual not engaged in a business.
Seems to me that private people can paste up whatever signs they like, providing a relevant business has no objection.


This Law seems to exclude the Government as defendant.

The ACCC appears to be unable to receive complaints about a product (“The CarbonTax”), of which the Prime Minister said last year “There will be no carbon tax under the Government I lead”. This conduct is tantamount to the premeditated use of misleading words to gain a benefit, which is often an action punishable by law. This broken promise seems to be at odds with D3) ‘to prevent practices that are unfair’. However, this promise seems to have been made before the commencement date of the Australian Consumer Law.
Where are you, Sir Humphrey?

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