The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has published its September 2014 quarterly report, ACCCount, which highlights some of the agency’s key activities in mid-2014.
The agency has worked to support small business and fair trading, with proceedings launched against A Whistle (1979) Pty Ltd (trading as Electrodry) for alleged involvement in the posting of fake online testimonials.
The ACCC also secured declarations by the Federal Court that Pirovic Enterprises Pty Ltd engaged in misleading representations and orders for penalties of $300 000. Pirovic’s labeling and promotion of ‘free range’ eggs was found to be misleading.
“Credence claims can allow small businesses to promote quality goods and services to consumers. When big businesses undermine these claims, both consumers and small businesses pay the price,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
During this quarter the ACCC also instituted proceedings against Omniblend Australia Pty Ltd for alleged cartel conduct and instituted against Informed Sources and several petrol retailers for alleged anti-competitive conduct in relation to price information sharing.
“Both of these cases underline the significant focus that the ACCC has dedicated towards priority enforcement areas in 2014,” Mr Sims said.
Product safety remains an ACCC priority. September saw the ACCC partnered with consumer agencies, building regulators and electrical safety regulators to coordinate a national recall of Infinity cables from an estimated 40 000 households and businesses. The cables become brittle prematurely, and once brittle, physical contact with the cables could dislodge the insulation and lead to electric shock or possibly fires.
The routine assessment of proposed mergers and authorisation applications continued with the ACCC assessing or pre-assessing 67 matters relating to potential mergers and acquisitions, including the decision to not oppose the proposed acquisition of Goodman Fielder Ltd.
The three authorisations included allowing a network of Catholic hospital, aged and community care service providers to collectively negotiate with funding organisations, and allowing Rio Tinto Coal, Peabody Energy and Pacific National to coordinate operational arrangements relating to the transport of coal for export through the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal.
The Australian Energy Regulator also said farewell to Chairman Andrew Reeves at the end of the quarter. His replacement, Ms Paula Conboy, commenced as AER Chair on 1 October 2014.
“Andrew Reeves made a significant contribution to the AER during his six years as Chair, including the execution of reforms to network regulation, the implementation of National Energy Retail Law and Rules, and new functions for the AER in monitoring wholesale gas markets. He has left an excellent legacy,” Mr Sims said.
See also: ACCCount 1 July to 30 September 2014