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Gas supply 'evil price gouging'

Gas supply 'evil price gouging'

Thu July 5, 2012 8:26pm

THE federal government says some businesses that supply gas for refrigerators and air-conditioners are engaged in "evil price gouging".

But Climate Change Minister Greg Combet believes refrigerant companies are being "smarter" than the Brumby's bakery chain by not directly linking prices rises to the tax.

"They're just letting you draw a conclusion that somehow this is all the evil carbon tax, whereas it's actually evil price gouging in my opinion," the minister told Adelaide radio on Thursday.

"I know the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) is having a look at it."

Brumby's parent company Retail Food Group on Wednesday was forced to admit it would be "inappropriate" for franchisees to blame the carbon tax for unrelated price increases.

Mr Combet named Sydney-based refrigerant company Heatcraft on Thursday as one business that was "just taking the opportunity to jack up prices" upon the introduction of the government's $23-a-tonne pollution price.

The effective carbon price for the gas R404A was $75 a tonne, but Heatcraft was hiking its price by $285 a tonne, he said.

Australian Refrigeration Association president Tim Edwards said "on the face of it" some wholesale gas suppliers were price gouging.

Heatcraft said all its representatives were "in meetings" and unavailable to comment.

Mr Combet said the impact of the carbon tax on households was "small" with the related cost of re-gassing a standard fridge or split-system air-conditioner less than $4.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was asked on Thursday if he'd "overreacted" to the pollution price because businesses weren't closing down.

He responded by insisting the carbon tax would hurt - eventually.

"Don't forget the carbon tax is going to go up and up and up and up," the Liberal leader told ABC Radio.

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