The introduction of an Australian carbon tax is likely to drive up the prices of everyday goods sold in local retailers, which would ultimately force more consumers to offshore online stores like Amazon.com, according to the Australian National Retail Association (ANRA).
ANRA represents Australian retail businesses with a turnover of over $100 million a year, including Coles, Woolworths, Franklins, Bunnings Warehouse, Just Jeans and Jay Jays.
Speaking to ZDNet Australia at the hearing into the economic structure and performance of the Australian retail industry today, the CEO of ANRA, Margy Osmond, said that a carbon tax would see consumers go offshore to get better prices, leaving Australian bricks-and-mortar businesses to suffer with high costs and low sales.
"I think that's part of our concern and why we brought it up, is the additional costs that may accrue from the carbon tax being applied to every stage of the supply chain for consumer goods may make those prices higher yet again and drive more and more people online.
"The other issue from our perspective will be paying tax and [Australian retailers] will be paying the impact of the carbon price and all of the other things that we've mentioned to the commission that overseas online retailers won't, and that overseas online retailer doesn't provide very many jobs [in Australia] at all," Osmond said.
Despite its concerns, however, Osmond said that ANRA isn't flat-out opposed to a carbon tax. Instead, it's working with the government to better understand the process.
"We need to understand the carbon price and its impact better. We're working with Treasury at the moment to have a better look at the modelling and what the pass-through impact of the price is going to be," she added.
The Productivity Commission's Sydney hearing into the economic structure and performance of the Australian retail industry is set to continue tomorrow.