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Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has taken aim at the carbon tax’s hip-pocket hit as he and the prime minister continue their nation-wide campaigns spruiking their alternative climate plans.

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As Mr Abbott started the morning with his family at the fish markets in the Greens-held seat of Melbourne, the first poll taken after the release of the government’s climate package showed almost two-thirds of people want a fresh election.

The Galaxy poll also showed 68 per cent of voters believe the carbon tax will leave them worse off, while 80 per cent said the package would have no impact on the environment and two-third of voters said it would be economically bad.

The Liberal leader told reporters later in the Labor-held seat of Isaacs it was time Prime Minister Julia Gillard tested the policy at an early election.

“There are millions of households around this country who are confused about this tax because they keep hearing from the prime minister, the treasurer, and the finance minister indications that the government doesn’t know that it’s doing,” he said.

“We know from the government’s own figures that a single income family starts to be worse off from average weekly earnings.”

Gillard’s response

Ms Gillard said she had given a commitment to run full term and by late 2013 voters would have a greater understanding of how the scheme works.

“We’ve got to get this done,” the prime minister told ABC Radio, ahead of a visit to the seat of Moreton.

“In 2013, people will have lived under the system, direct experience, real experience … and then they will be able to decide.”

Ms Gillard’s comments came as Treasurer Wayne Swan and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission sounded a warning to businesses which hiked prices unfairly using the carbon tax as an excuse.

The commission will use its powers under the newly-introduced Australian Consumer Law to investigate claims of price gouging and prosecute any business, with the power to impose penalties of up to $1.1 million.

Mr Swan says the $23 a tonne carbon price, due to operate from July 1, 2012, will only have a 0.7 per cent impact on the cost of living.

“The commission will keep a watchful eye out for any shonky attempts to jack up prices and falsely claim it is related to the carbon price,” he said in Melbourne.

“So the ACCC will be the cop on the beat out there to ensure false claims are dealt with, and dealt with the full force of the law.”

Mr Abbott said the enforcement would not be necessary if the carbon tax did not go ahead.

“The most misleading and deceptive conduct has been by the prime minister herself,” he said.

 

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