Bulk grain ports monitoring highlights access issues

The ACCC’s annual Bulk grain ports monitoring report has highlighted continuing concerns being expressed by growers and exporters about access to Australia’s bulk grain export supply chains, both at port and upcountry.

Three companies (CBH, Viterra and Graincorp) are responsible for operating most of Australia’s grain export port terminal facilities, and associated grain storage and logistic systems. They are also major grain exporters, as well as providing essential services and port access to their exporter competitors.

Concerns about proposed merger between TPG and Vodafone

The ACCC has expressed preliminary competition concerns about the proposed merger between TPG Telecom (ASX: TPM) and Vodafone Hutchison Australia (a JV between Vodafone Group and Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) (ASX:HTA)), and its potential impact on Australia’s mobile and broadband markets.

The ACCC’s concerns are detailed in a statement of issues published today.

Inquiry into access conditions for Telstra's regulated fixed line services

The ACCC has commenced a public inquiry into making final access determinations (FADs) for Telstra’s six fixed line services and for wholesale ADSL.

The fixed-line services allow other telecommunications companies to use Telstra's existing copper network facilities to provide voice and broadband services to retail customers.

“Our inquiry will consider the terms and conditions that should be covered in the FAD, including the prices for the services and non-price terms and conditions of access,” ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherston said.

Watch out for holiday season scams

Scamwatch is warning people to be careful about being caught out by holiday season scams.

“Scammers will take advantage of special days or major events like Christmas to fleece people of their money or personal information,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Here are three common holiday season scams people should look out for:

Lack of transparency stifles mortgage price competition

The opaque, discretionary pricing of residential mortgages by banks makes it difficult and time consuming for borrowers to shop around and stifles price competition, a report by the ACCC has found.

The ACCC’s Residential Mortgage Price Inquiry monitored the prices charged by the five banks affected by the government’s Major Bank Levy between 9 May 2017 and 30 June 2018.

ACCC takes action against NSW Ports

The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against NSW Ports Operations Hold Co Pty Ltd and its subsidiaries Port Botany Operations Pty Ltd and Port Kembla Operations Pty Ltd for making agreements with the State of New South Wales that the ACCC alleges had an anti-competitive purpose and effect.

“We are alleging that making these agreements containing provisions which would effectively compensate Port Kembla and Port Botany if the Port of Newcastle developed a container terminal, is anti-competitive and illegal,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

ACCC releases preliminary report into Google, Facebook and Australian news and advertising

With Google and Facebook transforming the way consumers communicate, access news and view advertising online, it is critical that governments and regulators consider the potential issues created by the concentration of market power and the broader impacts of digital platforms.

The preliminary report, published today, contains 11 preliminary recommendations and eight areas for further analysis as the inquiry continues.

NBN wholesale service standards inquiry enters next phase

The second phase of the ACCC’s NBN wholesale service standards inquiry will consider whether regulation is needed to improve customer experience.

NBN wholesale service standards are a key part of the commercial arrangements between NBN Co and retail service providers that affect the services to NBN customers.

A discussion paper, released today, highlights several issues to be considered, informed by feedback so far received by the inquiry and latest developments in the sector.