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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3564

Mr Hartsuyker asked the Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs, in writing, on 4 December 2008:

(1)   Has the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) spent any of the $7.1 million that was appropriated to it in the 2008-09 Budget for the 2008-09 financial year under the FuelWatch measure.

(2)   Has the ACCC returned this money to Budget following the defeat of the FuelWatch legislation in the Senate.

(3)   Did the ACCC recruit any staff to work on the FuelWatch measure.

(4)   Why did the ACCC return an operating loss in 2007-08.

(5)   Which areas of the ACCC were responsible for the loss.

(6)   Which areas of the ACCC overspent and which areas underspent.

(7)   Did the ACCC seek the approval of the Finance Minister to budget for an operating loss in 2007-08; if so, did the Finance Minister approve this loss; if the loss was not approved, why not.

(8)   In respect of the 2008-09 Budget Measure Petrol Price Monitoring—appointment of a permanent petrol commissioner, which included $1.342 million in funding for the 2007-08 financial year (Budget Paper 2, page 289): how much did the ACCC spend in 2007-08 on this measure; and if the ACCC underspent, has the unused money been returned to Budget.

(9)   Will the Government provide any additional funding for the ACCC to implement the Trade Practices Amendment (Cartel Conduct and Other Measures) Bill 2008; if so, what sum.

Mr Bowen (Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs, and Assistant Treasurer) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   Yes

(3)   Yes.

(4)   The ACCC’s operating loss in 2007-08 was due to litigation settlements, please refer to the ACCC Annual Report, note 4G on page 146.

(5)   The Legal area.

(6)   The following areas were underspent: Executive Corporate Legal Enforcement & Compliance Regulatory Affairs Mergers & Acquisition and Adjudication. No areas were overspent.

(7)   Yes, and the Minister approved the loss.

(8)   In 2007-08 the ACCC spent $684,136 on this measure. The balance of the funds has not been returned to the budget.

(9)   The ACCC received additional funding for Criminal Cartel Enforcement - Investigations and Prosecutions in the 2006-07 budget. The sum for 2008-09 was $6.192m.