Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Labor protects the competition watchdog & small business.



Download PDFDownload PDF

AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY

Joel Fitzgibbon MP

Shadow Assistant Treasurer Shadow Minister for Revenue Shadow Minister for Banking and Financial Services

15 March 2005

LABOR PROTECTS THE COMPETITION WATCHDOG & SMALL BUSINESS

The Government’s amendments to the Trade Practices Act (TPA) would fundamentally undermine the effectiveness of the competition regime and the role of the ACCC as the competition regulator.

The Government is seeking to cut the ACCC out of the merger authorisation process. Under its model merger authorisation applications are only considered by the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT).

It is so desperate to push these changes through that it has sought to misrepresent the view of the ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel. Last night in a Senate hearing on the Bill, Treasury tabled a document from Justice Goldberg, President of the Australian Competition Tribunal. The document suggested the ACCC Chairman had no concerns with the Government’s proposed changes. Mr Samuel immediately rejected these claims and reiterated his opposition to the Government’s proposals.

Mr Samuel’s told the Senate Committee that the ACCC is experiencing a high degree of “frustration and dissatisfaction” with the way the ACT deals with the ACCC. So the Government’s proposals won’t work.

Labor will amend the Bill to retain a primary role for the ACCC in the merger authorisation process.

Labor will also oppose the discriminatory exclusion of unions from collective bargaining for small business and retain key prohibitions on anti-competitive conduct that hurts small business.

These strong amendments (see attachment) show that Labor is the only major party serious about competition policy.

1

Contact: Joel Fitzgibbon 0418 293 372 www.joelfitzgibbon.com Brendan Long 0408 421 447

AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY

Joel Fitzgibbon MP

Shadow Assistant Treasurer Shadow Minister for Revenue Shadow Minister for Banking and Financial Services

LABOR’S AMENDMENTS TO THE TRADE PRACTICES BILL

Merger Approvals

Labor will amend the Government’s Bill to retain the primary role for the ACCC in the merger authorisation process.

In order to streamline the current process, Labor’s amendments will allow an applicant to move authorisation proceedings from the ACCC to the Tribunal after 30 calendar days.

Collective Bargaining for Small Business

Labor supports small business desire for streamlined access to collective bargaining under the TPA. Labor will amend the Bill to increase the threshold for collective bargaining for small business from annual trade of $3 million to $10 million.

Labor rejects the discriminatory amendment to the Bill that will exclude unions from acting for small business in collective bargaining. All changes involving Part IV of the TPA require consultation with the States and Territories. The Treasury admitted in the Senate Committee last night that it chose to “notify” rather than “consult” with the States and Territories. Treasury justified this by saying this change to this bill was “minor”.

To the contrary the changes are substantial and the Government’s failure to consult is a clear breach of Intergovernmental Agreement. Labor will delete this provision from the Bill.

Third-line forcing

The Bill substantially reduces the powers of the ACCC to stop anti-competitive conduct that involves providing a good or service on the condition that goods or services are purchased from a third party (third-line forcing).

Labor will amend the bill to retain current prohibitions on this practice in dealings that involve consumers. This means that third-line forcing will still be prohibited for transactions under $40,000.