by Alan Thornhill
A large bakery chain is under investigation, after its managing director, Deane Priest, urged franchisees to raise bread prices and “let the carbon tax take the blame”.
Mr Priest’s comment, in an internal publication call Backmix, drew an immediate rebuke from the Federal government and set off an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury, said This sort of behaviour is reprehensible.”
It is part of the publicly listed Retail Food Group, which also owns Donut King and Michel’s Patisserie.
And in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, the parent company described the comments as “foolish” and “ill-considered”.
“The reported comments… were not sanctioned and are of significant concern to the board,” Retail Food Group chief executive Tony Alford said.
Mr Bradbury said the matter is serious.
“….of course these are matters that are the subject of investigation by the ACCC, he said,
“And if any breaches of the law have occurred, then those involved in this sort of conduct could be up for fines of up to $1.1 million per contravention of the act.
“It’s very serious indeed.”
Mr Bradbury was speaking to reporters in the Sydney suburb of Penrith.
He said the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, had been given a chance to condemn such behaviour, but had chosen not to do so.
But the Opposition’s Small Business spokesman, Bruce Bilson, struck back, saying that the carbon tax will add to legitimate business costs.
“Small businesses across Australia will be hit with the carbon tax – ovens, fridges, freezers and air conditioners will cost more to run and suppliers will increase prices.
“ This is the result of the carbon tax and no amount of threats by Mr Bradbury will hide that fact,” Mr Bilson said.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
Monday May 20
The Dow Jones Index rose 121.18 points Friday,New York time) to 15,354.40
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has received a boost in the latest newspaper polls as she continues her push to get states and territories to sign up to the Federal Government’s education reforms. Fairfax’s latest Nielsen poll says support for Ms Gillard as preferred prime minister has increased four points to 46 per cent, leaving her level with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, whose support dipped four points.
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