Proposal to authorise Virgin Australia to cooperate with Virgin Atlantic

The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing to authorise Virgin Australia (ASX: VAH) to more closely cooperate with Virgin Atlantic on flights between Australia and the UK and Ireland, via Hong Kong, Los Angeles and any other future mutual connecting points.

“Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic have asked to be authorised to cooperate more closely to improve their services between Australia and the UK and Ireland and attract more passengers,” ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.

Authorisation proposed for New Energy Tech consumer code

The ACCC proposes to authorise a new consumer code for retailers of products such as solar generation systems, energy storage systems, electrical vehicle charging and other emerging energy products and services.

The New Energy Tech Consumer Code (the Code) sets minimum standards of good practice and consumer protection and will apply to all aspects of customers’ interactions with participating retailers, including marketing; finance and payments; warranties and complaints handling processes.

Meredith Dairy proposal to set minimum prices rejected

The ACCC has issued a final notice revoking a resale price maintenance (RPM) notification lodged by Meredith Dairy, which would have prevented retailers selling its goat cheese products below a price set by Meredith Dairy.

Meredith Dairy had raised concerns that smaller retailers promoting its products at low prices to compete with major supermarket chains had led to demands from other retailers for lower wholesale prices.

Feedback sought on collective bargaining plan for small businesses

The ACCC is seeking views on its proposal to implement a class exemption that would allow small businesses to collectively negotiate with their suppliers and processors, and franchisees and fuel retailers to collectively negotiate with their franchisor or fuel wholesaler, without first having to seek ACCC approval.

Currently, groups of competitors seeking to negotiate together must first obtain formal approval from the ACCC under its ‘authorisation’ or ‘notification’ processes.

Proposal for more transparency on music performing rights licensing

The ACCC is calling for feedback on a proposal to reauthorise the Australasian Performing Right Association’s (APRA) musical works licensing arrangements for a further five years with additional conditions.

APRA and its members, including composers, songwriters and publishers, hold performing rights for virtually all music played or performed in Australia, and earn royalties from those rights. In most cases, members assign these rights on an exclusive basis to APRA, which collects royalties by imposing licence fees on users of that music.

Amended OxoPak certification trademark approved

The ACCC has approved OxoPak Pty Ltd’s application for a certification trademark for certain biodegradable plastics after substantial changes were made to it to address concerns raised by the ACCC.

The approved OxoPak mark certifies that plastic bags and other packaging materials meet specified standards of oxo-biodegradability. The mark is intended to be used on plastic products that are recyclable or, if they do end up in the environment as litter, are oxo-biodegradable.

Mortgage broking disciplinary rules granted interim authorisation

The ACCC has granted interim authorisation to allow the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA), the peak national body for mortgage and finance brokers, to continue to administer disciplinary rules enforcing its Code of Practice.

The interim authorisation will give the MFAA time to review its Code of Practice in line with recommendations of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (Financial Services Royal Commission), several of which relate to the mortgage broking sector.

‘Tobacco-Free’ certification trademark may be accepted

The ACCC is proposing to accept an application for a certification trademark that signals to potential investors that investments by a fund manager or financial institution are ‘tobacco-free’.

Tobacco Free Portfolios Limited, which maintains a list of businesses involved in the manufacture of tobacco products, has applied to register the Tobacco Free certification trademark.

Rural Doctors get approval to negotiate

The ACCC has authorised the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) to negotiate contracts with hospitals and health facilities on behalf of rural doctors.

RDAA will be allowed to negotiate terms and conditions for GPs, locums and other rural doctors, working as Visiting Medical Officers in public hospitals and health facilities.

The approval, granted for 10 years, also applies to doctors who provide after-hours services and other primary health care services.

Levy for chemicals and container recycling scheme to continue

The ACCC has authorised AgStewardship to continue collecting a levy on the sale of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, to fund programs for the safe disposal and recycling of the containers and unused chemicals.

The levy, imposed on participating manufacturers, was first authorised in 1998 and has now been authorised to continue for a further five years.

“We see considerable public benefit from these collection and recycling programs,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.