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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9269


Ms SCOTT (Lindsay) (11:22): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that the first major root and branch review of competition policy in more than 20 years, as promised by the Coalition, is being delivered, and:

(a) is being conducted with a focus on the current laws and competition framework, to ensure that efficient businesses, both big and small, can compete effectively and have incentives to invest and innovate for the future; and

(b) will provide a framework for delivering durable benefits to consumers by building a productive and competitive 21st century Australian economy;

(2) recognises the plans of the Government to support efficient markets which deliver lower prices and better services for Australian consumers; and

(3) commends the Government on its approach to this important economic reform.

I come to this place with a fundamental belief in small government. I also believe in the importance of free trade and a free and fair market. In fact, I believe it is a fundamental role of government to provide that fair and even playing field, a platform that will allow business to innovate and to flourish. It is for this reason I bring this matter to the House. I commend the minister for getting on with the job with a root and branch review of the competition policy. I commend the minister for getting this policy review underway.

The last comprehensive review of competition policy, the Hilmer review, was in 1993, more than 20 years ago. Hasn't the economy—hasn't the world—changed in that 20 years? This root and branch review delivers on a key election commitment. The review is sure to identify ways to build and promote the Australian economy and promote investment, growth and jobs creation. The competition review will examine not only the current laws but also the broader competition framework to increase productivity and efficiency in markets, drive benefits to ease cost of living pressures and raise the living standards for all Australians. We need competition laws for the 21st century. In the words of Professor Harper, who is leading the review, 'We need a modern, responsive competition policy framework that strengthens our economy today and positions us for the new opportunities and challenges we face in the decades to come.'

Good and sound competition policy should enhance innovation, create new goods and services and develop new ways to do business. Ensuring a fair playing field is good for consumers and business alike. Competition has the power to boost growth, enhance our standards of living and drive productivity. I was raised in a small business family and my dad, who at various times throughout his career found new ways to do business and moved into new franchising models, always said, 'Competition doesn't kill you. It makes you stronger. It makes you find new ways to do business.'

More than ever, we live in a changing environment and a changing economy. Our economy is most definitely dynamic. In the years since the last review, the FMCG market alone within our major supermarkets—both Coles and Woolworths—had a market share of about 40 per cent. Today their market share is in excess of 80 per cent, and I expect my good friend the member for Hughes will touch on these exact points. These two competitors are changing not only the face of our FMCG environment but also hardware, fuel, insurance, liquor, pubs—which I am sure the member for Reid will also discuss today—and changing the way business and consumer goods right across our economy are being purchased and acquired.

Also since the last review we have seen the advent of the internet, with social media alone changing the way all consumers communicate, how we do business and how we acquire goods and services. It has also changed the retail experience for all Australians and shoppers right around the world. The World Internet Project's latest report has found that Australia's online shopping grew by 46 per cent between 2011 and 2013, far outpacing the growth of bricks-and-mortar retailing. Last year Australians spent over $14 billion on online retail and 6.5 per cent spending in bricks-and-mortar retail, according to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index. Industry estimates indicate that the growth trend will continue. According to Frost & Sullivan for example, 'Online retail sales will grow by around 13 per cent, year on year, in the next five years.'

In such a dynamic world and an innovative economy, such changing environments also present so many challenges for policymakers and regulators. This is why I am so proud to be part of a government that is meeting these demands and stepping up to the plate to review our competition policy—to have a competition policy that will be right, into the future. Our last competition policy is over 20 years old. It is time we review our competition policy to continue to provide that fair and even playing field for all Australians. I commend this motion to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Ewen Jones ): Is the motion seconded?

A government member: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.