THE whitewash begins. Now that the carbon tax has passed through federal parliament, the government's clean-up brigade is getting into the swing by trying to erase any dissent against the jobs-destroying legislation.
On cue comes the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which this week issued warnings to businesses that they will face whopping fines of up to $1.1m if they blame the carbon tax for price rises.
It says it has been "directed by the Australian government to undertake a compliance and enforcement role in relation to claims made about the impact of a carbon price."
Businesses are not even allowed to throw special carbon tax sales promotions before the tax arrives on July 1.
"Beat the Carbon Tax - Buy Now" or "Buy now before the carbon tax bites" are sales pitches that are verboten. Or at least, as the ACCC puts it, "you should be very cautious about making these types of claims".
There will be 23 carbon cops roaming the streets doing snap audits of businesses that "choose to link your price increases to a carbon price".
Instead, the ACCC suggests you tell customers you've raised prices because "the overall cost of running (your) business has increased".
It's all very Orwellian: the tax whose name cannot be spoken. We are already paying for the climate-change hysteria that has gripped Australia for a decade. Replacing even a portion of our cheap, coal-fired power with renewable energy is hellishly expensive. It also requires costly adaptation of existing infrastructure.
That's a big reason why electricity prices have hit the roof already. So when we accelerate the process with the carbon tax, the pain will escalate. That's the whole point of carbon pricing. A record number of households have had their electricity disconnected because they can't pay their power bills.
Household energy costs are estimated to have risen 17 per cent since July, with the result that the ranks of the energy poor are swelling.
In NSW, the Energy and Water Ombudsman has reported an 18 per cent increase in complaints from people whose electricity has been disconnected.
Then there are all the little immeasurables. For instance, last winter the price of Lebanese cucumbers in NSW skyrocketed because soaring energy costs forced the biggest grower to shut off heat lamps in some of his growing sheds. Result: fewer cucumbers - so prices rose to meet demand.
But no matter how Orwellian the tactics, no matter how many carbon cops are sent into hairdressing salons to interrogate barbers on the precise nature of their price rises, the truth remains: Australia has gone out on a limb, imposing a carbon tax that will send businesses to the wall, cause undue hard-
ship to families, and tether Australians more tightly to government handouts.
And soon, we will send billions of dollars overseas to buy useless pieces of paper called carbon credits. Invest-ment bankers, lawyers and carbon traders will get rich, as will all the usual spivs and scam artists ready to stick a bucket under the government spigot raining taxpayer cash.
It doesn't matter how many fairy stories the Greens tell about how the carbon tax will "save" the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu. Or how many gullible people believe hurricanes, floods and earthquakes are the result of man-made global warming. Eventually, the truth will out.
Even the International Panel on Climate Change, whose bureaucrat-written summaries cherrypick the most alarming scientific forecasts, is holding back in the face of runaway alarmist rhetoric from politicians.
In fact, leaked draft copies of the IPCC's latest special report into "Extreme Events and Disasters" reveal declining scientific certainty about the threat of human-produced greenhouse gases.
"There are a lot more unknowns than knowns," says BBC environment correspondent Richard Black.
The rising toll of extreme weather events cannot be blamed on greenhouse gas emissions, according to Black, who has seen the draft.
"Uncertainty in the sign of projected changes in climate extremes over the coming two to three decades is relatively large because climate change signals are expected to be relatively small compared to natural climate variability," says the IPCC report. In other words, the effect of human-produced greenhouse gas on the climate is insignificant when compared to natural climate change.
Since he's dropped in for 26 hours, US President Barack Obama could explain to his new best friend Julia Gillard why he decided not to impose a carbon tax on his ailing economy. Or why Canada has prudently ruled out a carbon scheme, and New Zealand is scaling its back and China and India continue to sit on their hands. Durban will be fun.