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Competition Policy Review (Harper Review)

For the latest news and information on the Harper Review visit my review page or the official Competition Policy Review website. The panel's draft report is expected on 22 September 2014.

 

Latest Competition Law News and Commentary

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14 September 2014 - Sims on National Champions

As part of his LCA address, ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, addressed the recurring issue of national champions, claiming the current debate confuses the distinction between industrial and merger policy. See Jeff Whalley, 'Global can't crush local, says competition watchdog chief' (Herald Sun, 14 September 2014)

14 September - Sims' address to LCA

The full address by ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, to the Law Council of Australia on Friday is now available on the ACCC's website. See Press Release, 'Our economy needs more competition on its merits' (ACCC, 12 September 2014) and Rod Sims, 'Enhancing competition policy' (Speech to Law Council of Australia, Competition and Consumer Committee AGM, 12 September 2014)

13 September 2014 - Locking rivals in change rooms

ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, speaking to the LCA, has suggeted that the ACCC's proposed changes to s 46 are directed to addressing behavior akin to a football team with substantial market power locking a rival in their change rooms and 'seeking to win by default'. See 'ACCC boss Rod Sims: Companies locking rivals in change rooms' (news.com.au, 13 September 2014)

12 September 2014 - Sims misunderstood?

The Australian Financial Review today features several items on competition policy today. First, page one features an article by Michael Smith - 'Rod Sims: don't let me be misunderstood' (Australian Financial Review, 12 September 2014, pages 1 and 4) highlighting Sims' claim that the ACCC's proposed changes to s 46 have been 'misinterpreted'. On page 36 you will find 'Competition Rules', featuring an interview with Rod Sims (Michael Smith, 'Competition Rules' (AFR, 12 Sept 2014, page 36). Finally there is an opinion piece from Rod Sims focussing on s 46 (Rod Sims, 'The ACCC wants to keep the playing field open as well as level' (AFR, 12 Sept 2014, page 39)

12 September 2014 - Bowen attacks s 46 proposals

Former competition minister, Chris Bowen, addressed the National Press Club yesterday and took the opportunity to voice his opinion that the proposed effects test for s 46 may chill competition. See David Crowe, 'ACCC’s reform plan will chill market forces, Chris Bowen warns' (The Australian, 12 September 2014). See also 'Labor backs big business in opposing effects test' (Australian Financial Review, 12 September 2014, page 4).

11 September 2014 - Billson labels big business juvenile over effects test

The AFR is reporting that Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson, has labelled big business juvenile for suggesting the issues surrounding section 46 are 'black and white'. According to the AFR he also claims there is no suggestion an effects test would replace the current law requiring proof of intent to misuse market power (although if that is the case it is not at all clear what is being suggested). See Fluer Anderson, ''Effects test' to allow scrutiny of big firms' (Australian Financial Review, 11 September 2014) - for online versions see Fluer Anderson, 'Big business 'juvenile', says Billson' (AFR, 10 September 2014 - subscription required) and Fluer Anderson, 'Big business is 'juvenile' for opposing effects test: Small Business Minister Bruce Billson' (BRW, 11 September 2014)

11 September 2014 - Billson denies he's made up his mind on s 46

Following the report in yesterday's Australian that Cabinet was split over competition laws, Minister for Small Business, the Hon Bruce Billson, has denied that he has a fixed view on policy changes. See David Crowe, 'Minister warns on plan to toughen laws ahead of competition review' (The Australian, 11 September 2014). John Durie also has a piece in today's Australian suggesting the s 46 debate is a distraction, suggesting the focus should shift to more substantial issues: John Durie, 'Section 46 focus is a distraction' (The Australian, 11 September 2014)

11 September 2014 - ACCC gives nod to TPG

The ACCC has announced it will not take action to prevent TPG implementing its plans to connect large apartment buildings in metro areas to its existing fibre networks (etc), concluding that it's planned rollout is permitted under the Telecommunications Act. The ACCC's investigation followed a complaint that the plans would breach the 'NBN level playing field' provisions in the Act. See ACCC press release. See also David Ramli, 'ACCC gives TPG nod despite NBN Co's concerns' (Australian Financial Review, 11 September 2014).

10 September 2014 - ACCC releases updated immunity policy

The ACCC has today published its updated Immunity and Cooperation Policy for Cartel Conduct (these replace the ACCC Immunity Policy for Cartel Conduct July 2009 and ACCC Immunity Policy Interpretation Guidelines July 2009). This follows a review which commenced In May 2013 (including a public consultation from 30 September 2013 to 28 October 2013) and the release of a draft updated policy on 9 April 2014. Key changes include implementing a two-step process for the CDPP to grant criminal cartel immunity, removing 'clear leader' as a disqualifying factor for immunity and consolidating various publications into one policy document plus a set of FAQs. An updated Annex B to the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth was published yesterday. See press release.

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Hot topics

Competition Policy Review
(Harper Review)

Harper Review

Read moreThe first major review of competition policy in Australia in 20 years is underway with a draft report expected on 22 September.

New cartel immunity and cooperation policy

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Read moreOn 10 Sept 2014 the ACCC released a new Immunity and Cooperation Policy for Cartel Conduct.

ACCC takes on Informed Sources

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Read moreThe ACCC has instituted proceedings against Informed Sources and several petrol retailers alleging contravention of s 45.

Misuse of market power

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Read moreAlways topical, the issue of misuse of market power is set to feature prominently in the Harper Review.

First Tribunal merger authorisation

Merger authorisation

Read moreIn June the Australian Competition Tribunal granted its first direct merger authorisation to AGL.

Supermarkets and shopper dockets

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Read moreFollowing an investigation by the ACCC Coles and Woolworths agree to provide enforceable undertakings relating to the extent of shopper docket fuel discounts. The ACCC subsequently sued both companies alleging contravention of those undertakings.

 

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