The Inquiry is a public process and submissions (both written and oral) will generally be made public by being posted on the ACCC website.
However, the Treasurer has directed the ACCC to hold the inquiry in private to the extent necessary to receive and consider confidential written submissions. This is aimed at ensuring that a range of market participants can have their say.
The ACCC is mindful that farmers and suppliers and their representatives may have concerns about making a written submission that will be made public as part of the inquiry.
It is important to note that the Treasurer’s direction allows the ACCC to receive and consider submissions provided on a confidential basis, and the ACCC intend to do so in order to encourage full and frank participation by farmers and suppliers. Where the ACCC accepts submissions on a confidential basis from a farmer or supplier, the ACCC will not publish those submissions on our website, and will not otherwise disclose that you have made a submission. If you are particularly concerned about your identity potentially being disclosed, you may wish to make a submission though a representative such as an industry association or a lawyer.
If you are a farmer or supplier and have any questions about the ACCC’s processes for dealing with confidential submissions, we invite you to contact us before providing your submission.
More broadly, for all market participants, the ACCC can also accept a claim of confidentiality if the disclosure of specific information would damage a person’s competitive position. If the ACCC is satisfied that this type of confidentiality claim is justified, it must keep that information confidential unless it considers that disclosure of the information is necessary in the public interest.
Any claims for confidentiality on this basis must be made in respect of specific information, and be accompanied by an explanation of why disclosure of the information would damage your competitive position. Each such claim should reflect the content of each individual proposed disclosure, rather than being part of a blanket claim or relying on generic reasoning or evidence.
After considering these claims, the ACCC will not disclose information contained in a submission you claim may damage your competitive position without consulting with you and giving you an opportunity to provide more information, or an opportunity to withdraw the information.
In some circumstances, the ACCC may be legally required to produce confidential information, for example in court proceedings or under Freedom of Information legislation. If this occurs, the ACCC will notify and consult you, and will take steps to seek to protect the confidentiality of the information.