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Carbon tax claims first scalp with the resignation of Brumby’s bakery boss

Ben Packham
From: The Australian
July 06, 2012 5:23PM

JULIA Gillard’s carbon tax has claimed its first job with the resignation of the Brumby’s bakery chain manager who advised franchisees to “let the carbon tax take the blame” for price rises.

Brumby’s managing director Deane Priest tendered his resignation yesterday after drawing the ire of the federal government and sparking an investigation by the consumer watchdog.

The Retail Food Group, which also owns Donut King and Michel’s Patisserie, has now embarked on a major public relations drive in an effort to move on from “this very unfortunate matter”.

In a memo to all franchisees obtained by the ABC, Retail Food Group marketing manager Tracey Catterall outlined plans to “win back the hearts and trust” of Brumby’s customers.

Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said this week that Mr Priest’s memo amounted to “reprehensible” behaviour.

Ms Catterall told franchisees that Mr Priest’s resignation had been accepted.

“Deane has dedicated the past 12 years of his career to the Brumby’s system and during this period has made valuable contributions to its success,” Ms Catterall said.

“We wish him all the best both professionally and personally.”

Ms Catterall told Brumby’s store owners that full-page newspaper advertisements would be taken out by the company this weekend, and a “social media expert” had been engaged to respond to customers’ concerns.

She has also reportedly asked franchisees to remove any Liberal Party placards linking price rises to the carbon tax.

“We have not had the opportunity to inspect these placards and therefore have not formed any opinion as to their legality,” Ms Catterall said.

“Both RFG (Retail Food Group) and Brumby’s Bakery system are apolitical organisations.

“Consequently… we would ask that any franchisee who continues to display the placards referenced above immediately remove them from their business premises.”

Mr Priest had advised franchisees to consider making price rises in June and July.

“Let the carbon tax take the blame, after all, your costs will be going up due to it,” he said.

The government seized on the advice, warning other businesses to ensure they did not misrepresent the impact of the carbon price.

“They are treating their customers like mugs,” Mr Bradbury said.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the opposition was placing small businesses at risk by encouraging them to display placards making claims about the price impact of the carbon tax.

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