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Democrats win another round in the fight to protect regional market competition.

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Senator Andrew Murray Senator for Western Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Business & Corporate Affairs

Press Release Dated: 8 Mar 2001 Press Release Number: 01/152 Portfolio: Business & Corporate Affairs

Related: Regional Affairs

Democrats win another round in the fight to protect regional market competition The Australian Democrats today in the Senate secured a ‘green light’ from the Government and Opposition for the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee to examine issues affecting competition in regional markets.

Australian Democrats’ Business and Corporate Affairs spokesperson, Senator Andrew Murray, won bi-partisan support for two key (but rejected) Democrat amendments to the Trade Practices Amendment Bill (No.1) 2000 to be further reviewed by the committee.

The first item on the committee agenda will be the Democrat proposal to empower the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to order divestiture where an ownership situation exists which lessens competition. At present the ACCC can prevent a merger or acquisition if it will result in a lessening of competition - it only makes sense that they be allowed to break up monopolies that already exist.

The second item relates to big business misusing its market power. Proving a contravention of that prohibition is extremely difficult for competitors of businesses that behave that way. If a business has a substantial degree of market power and has taken advantage of that power, we believe that the onus should be on that business to show that it hasn’t misused its power to damage a competitor.

“It’s pretty dry stuff, but it’s important as it effects every household in Australia,” Senator Murray said.

“Competition is essential in the retail sector. An example is Cooma in New South Wales. Woolworths was able to buy its only competitor in the regional town. Prices went up after Woolworths secured a monopoly - and that hit

every home in Cooma.

“That’s when the ACCC should be able to step-in and order Woolworths to sell one of its stores. It ensures competitive markets are protected.

“I have often expressed my alarm at the diminishing size of the independent retail sector and the implications it has for competition and ultimately, the consumer.

“With today’s bi-partisan interest in the intent of my amendments being further explored I am hopeful that something positive will be done to protect competition in regional markets.”

Senator Murray added that he would move a reference to ensure these matters would be further considered.


Top | Email | Tell us what you think Authorised by: Jim Downey, 10 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2604. Copyright © 2001 Australian Democrats Last modified: Thu, 18 May 2000 13:51:26 Today: Fri, 09 Mar 2001 10:40:37