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Trade Practices Act: Section 46 cases.

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The Hon Peter Dutton MP Shadow Minister for Finance, Competition Policy and Deregulation

Senator the Hon George Brandis SC Shadow Attorney-General

Joint Release.

The Coalition shares the concerns of the Law Council of Australia that the Government's foreshadowed amendments to the Trade Practices Act to enable Section 46 cases to be dealt with by the Federal Magistrates Court would not have the effect of lowering costs, and could potentially increase them.

Shadow Minister for Finance, Competition Policy and Deregulation, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, has today called on the Government to demonstrate the benefits to businesses and consumers.

''The Government needs to show how this change to Section 46 of the Trade Practices Act increases competition, thereby benefiting businesses and consumers.

''We have seen many policy stunts from the Government on a range of issues, and the policy to allow the Federal Magistrates Court to hear complicated Section 46 cases has all the hallmarks of a token policy gesture, much like FuelWatch.''

Shadow Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis SC said ''Section 46 cases are, of their nature, complex and usually long. Conducting the hearings in the Federal Magistrates Court will not make them less complex or shorter.

''The Federal Court of Australia has a well-developed competency and long experience in hearing such cases.

''As any legal practitioner knows, having complex cases heard by a Court with an acknowledged specialisation in the field promotes efficiency in litigation.

''The claim that dealing with such matters in a lower, non-specialist court, will save costs, is simpleminded and incorrect.''