Compliance and enforcement priorities for 2022/23

3 March 2022

The ACCC’s 2022/23 compliance and enforcement priorities include manipulative or deceptive advertising in the digital economy, environmental claims and sustainability, and disruptions to global and domestic supply chains.

In the annual Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA) address in Sydney today, ACCC Chair Rod Sims said the ACCC’s 2022/23 priorities reflected current and emerging issues relating to consumer and fair trading, competition, infrastructure and product safety.

A key consumer and fair trading priority for the ACCC in 2022/23 will be manipulative or deceptive advertising and marketing practices in the digital economy.

“Consumers are facing a growing number of manipulative techniques to exploit or pressure them, and other practices that seek to distort or disregard their consumer choice in the digital economy,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

The manipulative techniques include false scarcity reminders such as low-stock warnings, false sales countdown timers, targeted advertising using a consumers’ own data to exploit their individual characteristics, pre-selected add-ons, and design interfaces that discourage unsubscribing.

Other practices of concern include manipulation of online reviews and search results, and comparison websites and social media influencers who don’t disclose commercial relationships including paid promotions.

“To realise the full benefit of online markets consumers and businesses must be confident to engage online,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC will also closely scrutinise businesses making environmental and sustainability claims, including claims about consumer goods, manufacturing, the energy sector, and carbon neutrality

“Many consumers are increasingly considering the environmental impact of the products and services they buy. We are aware of growing concerns that some businesses are falsely promoting environmental or green credentials to capitalise on these consumer preferences,” Mr Sims said.

“We are also seeing businesses incurring the costs of genuine environmentally friendly manufacturing processes face unfair competition from businesses making misleading environmental and sustainability claims without incurring the same costs.”

Competition issues in global and domestic supply chains, particularly where they are disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, will be a new competition priority for the ACCC.

“The importance of effective and competitive supply chains has been more evident than ever during the pandemic,” Mr Sims said.

COVID-related staff shortages, port congestion and transport interruptions have disrupted the supply of many retail goods from fresh food and groceries to clothing and medications.

“Where we have evidence of businesses taking advantage of the situation to fix prices or share markets, we will take appropriate action,” Mr Sims said.

Within its work in infrastructure regulation, the ACCC will prioritise issues in the airlines and airports industry.

“It is not only travellers who have felt the impact of the pandemic. The aviation sector itself has been particularly hard-hit,” Mr Sims said.

When prioritising its work on product safety, the ACCC will continue to build on the successful initiatives of recent years that have led to the introduction of world-leading new safety standards for quad bikes and button batteries.

In June, the ACCC will announce its annual product safety priorities in more detail at the National Consumer Congress.

“The ACCC’s compliance and enforcement work is not limited to these priorities,” Mr Sims said.

“We are an evidence-based agency and will exercise discretion to direct resources to matters that provide the greatest overall benefit for the consumer and competition.”

More information including the full list of the ACCC’s 2022/23 enforcement priorities is available at: Compliance & Enforcement policy & priorities

A summary is also available at 2022-23 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities.

A transcript of the speech is available at ACCC Enforcement and Compliance Policy speech.

2022-23 priorities

Consumer and fair trading issues in relation to environmental claims and sustainability.

Consumer and fair trading issues relating to manipulative or deceptive advertising and marketing practices in the digital economy.

Consumer and fair trading issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Competition and consumer issues arising from the pricing and selling of essential services, with a focus on energy and telecommunications.

Empowering consumers and improving industry compliance with consumer guarantees, with a focus on high value goods including motor vehicles and caravans.

Competition and consumer issues relating to digital platforms.

Competition issues in global and domestic supply chains, particularly where they are disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Promoting competition and investigating allegations of anti-competitive conduct in the financial services sector, with a focus on payment services.

Exclusive arrangements by firms with market power that impact competition.

Ensuring that small businesses receive the protections of the competition and consumer laws and industry codes of conduct, including in agriculture and franchising.

Compliance with the button battery safety standards.

Consumer product safety issues for young children, with a focus on compliance, enforcement, and education initiatives.

Enduring priorities

There are some forms of conduct so detrimental to consumer welfare and the competitive process that the ACCC will always regard them as a priority.

Cartel conduct

The ACCC will always prioritise cartel conduct causing detriment in Australia. When dealing with international cartels, the ACCC will focus on pursuing cartels that have a connection to, or cause detriment in Australia; that is, cartels that involve Australians, Australian businesses or entities carrying on business in Australia.

Anti-competitive conduct

The ACCC will always prioritise anti-competitive agreements and practices, and the misuse of market power.

Product safety

The ACCC will always prioritise product safety issues which have the potential to cause serious harm to consumers.

Consumers experiencing vulnerability or disadvantage

The ACCC recognises that consumers experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage can be disproportionately impacted by conduct in breach of the Act. The ACCC therefore prioritises conduct that impacts these consumers.

Conduct impacting Indigenous Australians

The ACCC acknowledges that certain conduct in breach of the Act has the potential to specifically impact on the welfare of Indigenous Australians. The ACCC also recognises that Indigenous consumers living in remote areas face particular challenges in relation to asserting their consumer rights. The ACCC will always prioritise its work in these areas while these challenges remain.

Release number: 
26/22
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