The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission welcomes the release of the Competition Policy Review Panel’s final report, the most significant review of its kind in over 20 years.
“This is a very important report. It sets out many pro-competitive reforms which, if adopted, could significantly enhance economic productivity over the years ahead,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The Panel’s recommendations to expose more sectors of the Australian economy to competition show the considerable scope for reform. The ACCC particularly supports the Report’s findings on roads, shipping, intellectual property and parallel imports.”
“The ACCC also supports proposals to make the misuse of market power provision workable, to introduce a prohibition on concerted practices (to tackle cartel-like conduct that may otherwise be permitted), and to improve merger assessment processes.”
The Panel’s recommendations to simplify the Act and make it easier for businesses to understand their obligations under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 are commendable.
“However, the ACCC is concerned that changes to the law should not weaken Australia’s cartel laws. Any amendments should not fundamentally alter the existing scope of the prohibitions,” Mr Sims said.
“Some of the proposed Part IV changes will require further consideration of the fine detail,” Mr Sims said.
Mr Sims also said “While the report’s recognition of the need for continuing advocacy in support of competition and the need for a market studies power is pleasing, we need to further consider why we do not follow the approaches being taken to these issues in other countries where they are functions of the competition regulator.”
The ACCC has already signaled important questions over proposals to break up the ACCC.
“The ACCC considers there are considerable synergies between competition law enforcement and economic regulation, which would be lost. Apart from the increased overheads from having to run two organisations rather than one, there would be very real costs for businesses in having to deal with two regulators, who may have conflicting views.”
“Breaking up the ACCC would also go against the international trend, which is towards agency consolidation”.
“That said, we recognise that these are issues for government to consider,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC looks forward to working constructively with the Government as it considers its response to the Competition Policy Review Panel’s final report.