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Competition Policy Reform Act 1995 receives Royal assent



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ASSISTANT TREASURER

THE HON GEORGE GEAR MP

PRESS RELEASE X__________________J

NO.

COMPETITION POLICY REFORM ACT 1995 RECEIVES ROYAL ASSENT

The Competition Policy Reform Act 1995 received Royal Assent on 20 July 1995.

"This Act is the centre piece of the national competition policy reforms," Mr Gear said. "It is the culmination of hard work and unprecedented cooperation to reach agreement between the Commonwealth, States and Territories at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in April this year."

The Act will commence in three stages.

The first stage will commence on 17 August 1995. At this time :

• the amended competitive conduct rules in Part IV of the Trade Practices Act 1974 come into force; and

• third line forcing conduct may be notified to the Trade Practices Commission/Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. This conduct may be allowed where its benefits outweigh its costs.

The second stage commences when the Act is proclaimed in October. From this time:

• the new competition institutions - the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the National Competition Council - come into being;

• the new national access regime begins; and

• amendments to the Prices Surveillance Act 1983 come into force. These amendments extend the coverage of that Act to State and Territory government businesses and establish the prices monitoring powers of the Prices Surveillance Authority.

The third stage begins on 21 July 1996. At this time the provisions of the Competition Policy Reform Act 1995, and complementary State and Territory legislation, will apply the competitive conduct rules to the whole Australian economy.

All Governments agree that firms becoming subject to the trade practices law for the first time need time to change any anti-competitive behaviour. Accordingly, in addition to the lengthy notice before the new laws come into effect, there will be no pecuniary penalties for offences until one year later, 21 July 1997.

“We want an orderly transition to the new laws,” Mr Gear said. “We are interested in education and improved behaviour, rather than prosecution and punishment.”

Substantial progress has been made in settling appointments to the new competition institutions.

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"Following suggestions from State and Territory Premiers and Chief Ministers, I am finalising my consultations with possible appointees," the Minister said. "I expect to provide my list of names to the States and Territories shortly."

"I am confident of securing the services of high quality appointees and I expect to be able to make my announcement of the appointments to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the National Competition Council in September."

9 August 1995

Media enquiries: Margot Marshall 06-277 7360

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