The ACCC welcomes the Government’s announcement today that it will move to strengthen Australia’s merger laws, bringing Australia into line with most other developed economies.

The proposed reforms will be announced by the Treasurer, the Honourable Dr Jim Chalmers, at the 10th annual Bannerman Competition Lecture in Sydney today and follow submissions by the ACCC calling for a fit for purpose merger regime to better identify and prevent anti-competitive transactions.

The new laws are set to come into force on 1 January 2026, subject to the passage of legislation through the Australian Parliament.

“We welcome the Treasurer’s announcement today that the government will move to strengthen Australia’s merger laws, which will benefit Australian consumers and businesses of all sizes, as well as the wider economy,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

“Higher prices, less choice and less innovation can result from weakened competition. Stronger merger laws are critical to ensure anti-competitive mergers do not proceed.”

“These proposed changes are significant and will reinforce public confidence in Australia’s competition laws,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said

Currently Australia's merger regime does not require merger parties to notify the ACCC of proposed acquisitions or to wait for ACCC clearance before proceeding.

The proposed reforms include introducing a mandatory notification requirement for merger deals above certain thresholds, and a prohibition on merger transactions proceeding without receiving a determination from the ACCC or Tribunal.

The ACCC also welcomes the Treasurer’s announcement that merger laws will be updated to better deal with serial acquisitions, where a number of smaller transactions occur over time that result in serious harms to competition.

Commissioner nominations

Ms Cass-Gottlieb also welcomed the Treasurer’s announcement that he will seek to appoint respected industrial organisation economist Dr Philip Williams AM as a Commissioner of the ACCC.

Dr Williams is former executive chair of Frontier Economics and a former Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Melbourne. He has advised leading law firms as well as the ACCC and the National Competition Council on competition and regulatory issues. Dr Williams holds a Masters in economics from Monash University and a PhD from the London School of Economics.

His appointment is subject to confirmation by the states and territories.

“Philip is an eminent and respected economist with a deep understanding of the intersection of economics and competition law in Australia. We warmly welcome news of his nomination by the Treasurer,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

The Treasurer has also confirmed the appointment of Stephen Ridgeway as an Associate Commissioner of the ACCC. Mr Ridgeway joined the ACCC as Commissioner in June 2019 for a five year term. He is widely recognised as one of Australia’s leading competition and consumer lawyers and an expert in the field.

“I am very pleased that the ACCC will continue to have the benefit of Stephen’s wisdom and intellect in his role as an Associate Commissioner. Stephen’s insights and guidance have been invaluable to our merger work in particular,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

Statement of expectations update

During his address, the Treasurer will also announce a new Statement of Expectations (SOE) for the ACCC.

Statements of Expectations are issued by the responsible Minister to a regulator to provide greater clarity about government policies and objectives relevant to the regulator in line with its statutory objectives and functions.

The SOE announced by the Treasurer today notes the Government’s expectation that the ACCC will promote a competitive, dynamic and inclusive economy and modern, well-functioning markets that work for consumers. It notes that boosting productivity and dynamism are critical to achieving the Government’s objectives and that the renewal of competition policy, including through merger reform, is a key pillar of the productivity agenda.

The ACCC has responded to the SOE though a Statement of Intent (SOI), outlining how we will meet the Government’s expectations.

This includes our strategic objective to prevent anti-competitive mergers and to support the implementation of merger law reform and a fit for purpose merger regime.

The Statement of Expectations and Statement of Intent can be found here:

Notes to editors

The Treasurer’s announcement will be made during his speech at the 2024 annual Bannerman Competition lecture, an event jointly hosted by the ACCC and the Law Council of Australia in honour of the late Ron Bannerman, the first chair of the Trade Practices Commission which was the precursor to the ACCC.

The Bannerman Competition Lecture provides an annual forum for eminent competition practitioners to deliver new ideas and perspectives, which the community can debate. The lecture is co-hosted by the ACCC and the Business Law Section of the Law Council of Australia.

A recording of the speech will be available here:


Treasury’s Competition Review was announced in August 2023 with terms of reference that included considering reforms to Australia’s merger laws. Further information is available here:

The ACCC’s submissions to the Treasury Competition Review, which includes detailed analysis and argues the case for reform can be found here:

The ACCC first released proposed merger reforms at the Law Council in 2021. ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb commenced her term in 2022 has continued to advocate for merger reform including at the National Press Club in April 2023.