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Turnbull fails Australian businesses on biggest reform to the Trade Practices Act in over 20 years.



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NO.075

TURNBULL FAILS AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSES ON BIGGEST REFORM TO THE TRADE PRACTICES ACT IN OVER 20 YEARS

The Coalition's move to keep the 'Birdsville' amendment yet refusing to remove the necessity to prove recoupment in predatory pricing cases is a major let down to both consumers and small businesses.

This was an important test of leadership for Malcolm Turnbull. It is a test he has comprehensively failed.

The Government's reforms would have been good news for small businesses, like independent petrol retailers and small grocers, who Australian consumers rely upon to compete against more powerful businesses and deliver competitive prices.

Today, Mr Turnbull spoke about opportunity and enterprise as being his leadership priorities, yet at the first hurdle, he has sought to butcher reforms that would have made it easier to prosecute businesses engaging in anti-competitive behaviour.

It is beyond belief that the Liberal party is attacking small business in such a way, placing such a high burden on them to prove predatory pricing. Small businesses should not have to prove that a powerful company recouped their losses, after they have been driven out of business.

The retention of the 'Birdsville' amendment will potentially see small businesses in local markets examined for cases of predatory pricing.

Predatory pricing is the practice of powerful businesses seeking to undercut the prices of its competitors with the intention of driving them out of business.

The ACCC has advised that small businesses in localised markets may be subject to Birdsville, where they are the only significant competitor, in a market otherwise consisting of a number of relatively smaller competitors.

The Government also attempted to give small businesses access to the cheaper and more efficient judicial processes of the Federal Magistrates

Media Release of 16/09/2008

Court, and again, was opposed by the Liberal Party.

Last night Liberal Senator George Brandis - a reported supporter of the government's package in the Shadow Cabinet - agreed with Professor Stephen Corones' critique of the existing 'Birdsville amendment'.

During the debate in the House of Representatives, the Shadow Competition Minister failed to even address the substance of the government's package or provide a rationale for the opposition's approach.

This Trade Practices reform package was outlined by Labor last year and forms a key part of the government's economic reform agenda