Less than a month since its implementation, the number of complaints over the carbon tax has been declining to 45 from 63 per day, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) disclosed on Friday.
The second general update issued by the ACCC since the federal government started to collect the $23 per tonne carbon price on July 1, would likely make Opposition leader Tony Abbott cringe. Mr Abbott has been counting on tapping public disenchantment with the carbon tax to support his plans to repeal the measure if the Coalition wins in the 2013 election.
The report, which said the ACCC received 1,260 complaints as of July 24 against companies that made misleading carbon price claims, confirms another study released this week that public stand against the levy is softening due to efforts by the Gillard government to explain the carbon tax.
Benchmarked against other business- and consumer-related complaints the ACCC receives daily at 900, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said the 45 daily average for carbon tax complaints is rather on the low side.
Some of the complaints are even what the agency considers based on stray comments.
"Even when a business has tried to ensure its representations are clear and accurate, a stray comment from an employee that casually refers to price increases as being carbon related when they are not could result in a complaint to the ACCC," Mr Sims was quoted by ABC.
However, Mr Sims acknowledged that some of the complaints are valid ones which had resulted in the regulator issuing a warning letter to about 30 Australian companies. Four of the companies which admitted to using the carbon tax to jack up their prices - Brumby's Bakeries, Equipserve Solutions (a refrigeration service provider) and two solar panel firms - promised to the ACCC not to repeat their offence.
But in most cases, the ACCC found that a staff made a reference to the carbon tax without the knowledge or permission of the business owners. Most of such errors that led to complaints were made against companies in the energy, landfill, refrigerant and building businesses.
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