The ACCC hotline will make it easier for consumers and small business to alert the ACCC if they think a carbon price claim is false.

As part of its Carbon Price Mechanism response the ACCC has launched its new ACCC Carbon Price Claims Hotline, but what impact it will have on business is unclear.

According to ACCC chairman Rod Sims, “The ACCC hotline will make it easier for consumers and small business to alert the ACCC if what they’re seeing doesn’t look quite right. Consumers or businesses can contact us if they think a carbon price claim is false.”

As we noted last year, the ACCC might have been given responsibility to monitor price exploitation and claims relating to the Carbon Price Mechanism, and it has cited carbon price claims as a priority for enforcement in 2012.

Its powers however have not been expanded.

Additionally, applying the concept of price exploitation to the purchase of carbon permits may be more complicated than it was to the introduction of the GST because the impact on prices will vary according to a number of factors.

Having said that, the Hotline does give consumers an easy route to complain about perceived breaches, and the ACCC's readiness to investigate claims which could ultimately be unfounded will mean more compliance work for businesses.

Businesses should be cautious about attributing price rises to the Carbon Price Mechanism, and refer to the ACCC's Carbon Price Claims – Guide for Businesses for the regulator's view on what will and won't attract its attention.