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Carbon Tax and the Law

Details of the legalities behind the much deliberated carbon tax have been, for the most part, undiscussed. The federal government is doing little to explain future carbon solutions and their legal implications. Industry associates beware: watch out for Julia’s elbow.

With the various releases of aspects of the carbon tax at present, it’s difficult to decide who will be hit with the inevitable cost increases. When you are dealing with the unknown, cautionary steps must be taken.

When tendering any projects, industry members have to be mindful of the impact of the future tax. It would be detrimental to both contractors and principals to enter contracts now that would have to be altered or broken in the future, leaving one or both parties at a loss.

A prudent approach may be to have the price subject to adjustment on the basis of the carbon prices impact. In this way, one may be safeguarded from contractual upheaval, and protected from being locked into an unfair contract.

One will have to provide that their partners  in the contracting chain also take a tolerant and generous attitude in adjusting the price; otherwise they might be caught between a rock and the carbon tax. The devil is always  in the detail.

Motorists are going to be free of carbon taxes, but trucks and commercial vehicles will not be so lucky. Sub-contractors may be classed as motorists, not as as truckers,  otherwise there will be an impact at every level of the industry.

There is a suggestion that 70% of householders will be fully insulated from the tax. The questions are “how” and “why”? These are the great unknowns that surround this complex carbon solution. Details are to be worked through; it is the issue of uncertainty that is the concerning element in this process.

As it stands in the present, there have been no considerations or explanations given as to the effects on long term contracts. The tax is, at its most basic foundation, uncertain.

With matters involving the subject of carbon tax yet to be clarified, err on the side of caution. It is in the best interest for all involved to move prudently in light of the legal uncertainty and the unknown impact the tax may have on various sectors.  It does not appear that this tax will be as easy as the GST to pass along as part of the pricing arrangements and care must be taken to ensure that the impact is managed.

Jim Doyle

Doyles Construction Lawyers

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