False and misleading conduct

Here is the ACCC describing Misleading & deceptive conduct.

There is a very broad provision in the Australian Consumer Law that prohibits conduct by a corporation that is misleading or deceptive, or would be likely to mislead or deceive you.

It makes no difference whether the business intended to mislead or deceive you—it is how the conduct of the business affected your thoughts and beliefs that matters.

If the overall impression left by an advertisement, promotion, quotation, statement or other representation made by a business creates a misleading impression in your mind—such as to the price, value or the quality of any goods and services—then the conduct is likely to breach the law.

Here is the Age describing the outcome of an Audit Office investigation into the government’s climate change policy promotions.

The department established a fact-checking matrix purporting to allow it to reference each of the 142 claims made in the radio, television, print and mailout campaign but, when checked by the Audit Office, 52 of the references were found to fall short.

Of those 32 were in the What a Carbon Price Means for You document mailed to every household in Australia. That is 32 false claims in a 19 page document.

No doubt the government has exempted its own public communication from ACCC scrutiny.

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30 Responses to False and misleading conduct

  1. Mike of Marion

    Government may make any regulation it likes but it doesn’t have to obey them!

    Been like that since year dot

  2. Big Al of Melbourne

    What’s the problem? Hundreds of mistakes when you only have 12,000 public servants in that Department to do this work. All while they are under such pressure tinkering with the world’s climate!!

    On a less serious note, the legislation you refer to only applies to conduct in the course of trade or commerce – something the Government was not in the course of (see the Noah’s Ark case). However, when it comes to newspapers selling such rubbish information, life could be more interesting. Could be a most interesting proceeding – what about a class action? Happy to act and put the boots in.

  3. Sinclair Davidson

    I see my subtle alluding to hypocrisy isn’t getting through.

  4. There’s a footnote 345 in the report:

    It is important to note that while issues were identified with the sources cited by DCCEE for campaign statements, this did not mean that the statements themselves were wrong or could not be supported by other sources of information.

    To say there were 32 “false” statements in the mail out is therefore not at all likely to be correct, given that only 8 of those are said to be “inconsistent” with a reference given. 18 are said to have “insufficient reference”, but that does not necessarily mean they are wrong.

  5. Token

    I see my subtle alluding to hypocrisy isn’t getting through.

    I can only guess the Cats have become as de-sensitised as the ever vigilent media guardians that we all know are ferocious in their job protecting our democracy & freedoms.

  6. .

    This is clearly the fault of the mad monk Tony Abbot and his relentless negativity.

  7. Token

    To say there were 32 “false” statements in the mail out is therefore not at all likely to be correct, given that only 8 of those are said to be “inconsistent” with a reference given. 18 are said to have “insufficient reference”, but that does not necessarily mean they are wrong.

    So Steve, you are saying they were just indulging in “puffery” in that document. Very good.

  8. val majkus

    Token I vaguely recall in my distant student past learning that in advertising puffery is to be expected – or to put it another way people expect outlandish claims in an ad
    The majority of the people I know treated that mailout as a joke
    have we learned yet who the 500 biggest polluters are?

  9. ar

    To say there were 32 “false” statements in the mail out is therefore not at all likely to be correct

    Absolutely. They were only false at the time of publication. Subsequent rule changes and removal from ACCC scrutiny means the document is 100% accurate, and I think it is disgusting of Tony Abbott to impugn the good works of public servants for his base politics.

  10. twostix

    have we learned yet who the 500 biggest polluters are?

    I guess we can assume Alcoa is one of them.

  11. twostix

    To say there were 32 “false” statements in the mail out is therefore not at all likely to be correct, given that only 8 of those are said to be “inconsistent” with a reference given. 18 are said to have “insufficient reference”, but that does not necessarily mean they are wrong.

    Ahhah you try that defence in front of the ACCC:

    “Well yes the sources that we provided didn’t support our statements, but there might be sources somewhere that agree with us so we weren’t really lying”.

  12. Jazza

    I wouldn’t know

    Any Labor, Green or government missives arriving here, other than from Centerlink, go straight out ,unopened, to the recycle bin.

    Any TV news is studiously avoided,as balderdash for the brain dead,and reading any “reports” it in print media is undertaken only when unavoidable.

    Time was that reporting meant telling the 5W’s, and allowing folk to make up their own minds about the facts–apparently taboo in our “progressive(read leftist) ” Universities and media study course at our wonderful TAFE..S!
    Thank God for the internet!

  13. C.L.

    The Guardian has the latest on the ‘global warming’ fraud:

    The world’s greatest snow-capped peaks, which run in a chain from the Himalayas to Tian Shan on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, have lost no ice over the last decade, new research shows.

    The discovery has stunned scientists, who had believed that around 50bn tonnes of meltwater were being shed each year and not being replaced by new snowfall.

  14. On your Marx

    I looked at the Report and it said

    ‘8.43 Of the 142 campaign statements referenced in the matrix, 52 of the
    sources (37 percent) cited were found to be insufficient341, inconsistent342 or
    indirect.343 While acknowledging the significant effort invested by DCCEE in
    preparing and updating the matrix344, DCCEE did not in all cases establish a
    clear line of sight between the statements appearing in the campaign and the
    sources of support recorded in the matrix.345 Table 8.3 summarises the ANAO’s
    review of the matrix.’

    ‘Footnote
    345 It is important to note that while issues were identified with the sources cited by DCCEE for campaign
    statements, this did not mean that the statements themselves were wrong or could not be supported by
    other sources of information.’

    If you actually read the footnotes in the table 8.3 above a statement that there were 32 false claims is in itself false.

    Ironic.

  15. Token

    Yes, yes, the false statements which would qualify as offenses under the TPA are all ok because it was the team you barrack for that made them…we get that.

    Along those lines…

    Quote of the year from Ken [Livingstone] comes in tomorrow’s New Statesman, when the Greatest Living Londoner avers: “I think I have gone through my entire public career never telling a lie. I have made mistakes but I never knowingly lied.” As one editor I worked for used to say, faced with a particularly preposterous statement by a public figure: “This one I frame.”

    If you read the article you’ll find this statement as reliable as the excuses tendered above…

  16. Mother Hubbard's Dog

    The government may be a company of thieves, but fortunately for them they are not a corporation.

    Anyway, you can always tell when a politician is lying. His mouth is open.

  17. wreckage

    MHD: not true. Sometimes they lie without moving their lips at all.

  18. On your Marx

    If there were 32 false claims then the author would have produced at least one of them.
    He produced none!

    In fact in the report ANAO go into reasonable detail when examining the more important claims.

    They find NONE of them were false.

    What has happened was that Treasury and the Department attempted to ( who knows why) to do all this by e-mail.

    Not surprisingly mistakes were made in terms of references.

    There clearly were mix-ups as ANAO were able to find the right references in their searches for material.

    There is plenty to criticise here in terms of getting things right however to claim there were 32 false claims is in itself false and misleading.

    One only has to read the chapter to realise that.

    Lots of irony here.
    The claim that there were 32 false claims is false.
    The real problem is poor referencing which happens , it seems, daily here.

  19. jtfsoon

    The real problem is poor referencing which happens , it seems, daily here.

    Is that like when you misplace the Woolworths branded tuna in the John West section, Homer?

  20. By the way, yesterday I tried the canned chicken in lite mayonnaise from Thailand (marketed here by Heinz, I think)and thought it tasted just like tuna.

  21. Jc

    Were the family happy with the cooking, mrs steve?

  22. wreckage

    There is plenty to criticise here in terms of getting things right however to claim there were 32 false claims is in itself false and misleading.

    I think your characterisation of the claim of false and misleading conduct as false and misleading conduct is false and misleading conduct.

  23. Mother Hubbard's Dog

    Sometimes they lie without moving their lips at all.

    Indeed. The best assumption is that a politician is lying, even if he hasn’t said anything yet.

  24. George K

    Its not false because the government beleived to agree with those that agreed with who had agreed with the information agreed to by those who dscovered they had agreed with the question asked on what they agreed to agree on. Yes, it must not be not be false, AGREED!

  25. John Comnenus

    I am shocked, absolutely shocked that Government climate change propaganda information includes false and misleading information. Shocked I tell you.

    I had to sit down, take deep breaths and look out my Canberra office window at another miserable cool wet autumnal day that seems to have constituted our entire Capital summer. Shocked that a freezing snap in Europe kills hundreds whilst we were told that hotter temperature kills more.

    There is only one thing I want to know about Climate Change: Who decided that the climate in East Anglia, England on 15 June 1967 was the perfect climate and we should never let the earth deviate from it?

  26. John Comnenus

    This is clever indeed, whilst everyone discusses which statement is or isn’t misleading, no one asks whether the whole theory is misleading in the first place. I think a Royal Commission into Anthropogenic Climate Change is warranted.

  27. val majkus

    John good comment
    and here’s an article from one of my favourite renewable experts Peter Lang – quoting from the e mail I received today

    The attached paper, “Renewable electricity for Australia – the cost”, was posted on the Brave New Climate (BNC) today and from one of my favourite energy experts
    The Summary states:

    “Here I review the paper “Simulations of Scenarios with 100% Renewable Electricity in the Australian National Electricity Market” by Elliston et al. (2011a) (henceforth EDM-2011). That paper does not analyse costs, so I have also made a crude estimate of the cost of the scenario simulated and three variants of it.

    For the EDM-2011 baseline simulation, and using costs derived for the Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (DRET, 2011b), the costs are estimated to be: $568 billion capital cost, $336/MWh cost of electricity and $290/tonne CO2 abatement cost.

    That is, the wholesale cost of electricity for the simulated system would be seven times more than now, with an abatement cost that is 13 times the starting price of the Australian carbon tax and 30 times the European carbon price. (This cost of electricity does not include costs for the existing electricity network).

    Although it ignores costings, the EDM-2011 study is a useful contribution. It demonstrates that, even with highly optimistic assumptions, renewable energy cannot realistically provide 100% of Australia’s electricity generation. Their scenario does not have sufficient capacity to meet peak winter demand, has no capacity reserve and is dependent on a technology – ‘gas turbines running on biofuels’ – that exist only at small scale and at high cost.”

    Also posted on the BNC web site is an Excel spreadsheet you can download to check the calculations, inputs, data sources and use to run sensitivity analyses.

    Please feel free to distribute this email and the attached paper. Comments, questions and constructive criticisms are welcome – join the discussion here:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/

  28. On your Marx

    Mr Davidson has had a Barro moment

  29. .

    Barro was right and you were wrong Homer.

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