Senator George Brandis Blames Carbon Tax for Fairfax Woes

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By Vittorio Hernandez | June 19, 2012 11:19 AM EST

Australian politicians are again playing the blame game just barely two weeks to the collection of the carbon tax on July 1. Coalition Senator George Brandis on Tuesday pointed to the carbon prices as the reason behind Fairfax Media's woes.

Fairfax announced on Monday several stringent measures such as cutting 1,900 jobs and $235 million costs over three years, as well as shifting to digital and tabloid formats for some of its mastheads and the closure of a printing press. However, Fairfax attributed the changes to shifts in readers' habits and dwindling income from advertising.

However, Mr Brandis, the deputy leader of the Opposition in the Senate, insisted that the $23 carbon price has links with Fairfax's problems in his question to Senator Penny Wong, who represented the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

"Is the minister aware that every significant stage of the Fairfax production chain, from the cost of power to produce newsprint to the cost of fuel to transport that newsprint, to the cost of electricity to operate the printing plants, to the cost of distribution will be directly affected by the carbon tax? Does the minister accept any responsibility for the loss of yet thousands more Australian jobs as a direct result of this toxic tax based on a lie?" The Stump, a Crikey Group blog, quoted Mr Brandis.

Ms Wong, who pointed out that the Opposition wants Australians to believe that "pricing carbon is responsible for ending civilisation as we know it" said blaming the carbon tax for Fairfax's problems is part of the Coalition's scare campaign.

"It is another example of an increasingly desperate scare campaign where, to try to make themselves relevant today, the opposition are actually on today's story and trying to link it somehow to carbon," Ms Wong retorted.

Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan spoke against the Opposition for riding on the carbon tax issue and blaming it for everything from higher rents to increase electricity prices.

"The leader of the Opposition is a snake oil salesman. He has been slithering around the country with a whole series of poisonous messages and a forked tongue, telling untruths about the impact of the carbon price on electricity," ABC quoted Mr Swan.

Due to the growing number of complaints from consumers of business that jack up costs on account of the carbon tax, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) set up a hotline for complaints against enterprises that impose false carbon tax price hikes. ACCC Chairman Rod Sims disclosed that the commission has received about 200 such complaints.

He urged businesses to wait and see the impact of carbon pricing on them before they increase their tag prices and attribute it to the carbon tax.

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