Welcome to Australian Competition Law
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 final report will be released to the public today (Tuesday 31 March 2015) at 3:15pm AEST.
Latest Competition Law News and Commentary
31 March 2015 - Harper Report out now
31 March 2015 - Harper Report release now 3:15pm
Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson's, press conference releasing the Harper Report is now expected at 3:15pm
31 March 2015 - Harper Report due 2pm
Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson, will release the Final Report of the Harper Competition Policy Review at a press conference in Melbourne at 2pm today. See James Bennett, 'Harper Review to be released today; Federal Government commits to act on report' (ABC News, 31 March 2015).
31 March 2015 - New legislation proposes to remove s 5 requirement for ministerial consent
On 18 March the Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson MP, introduced the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Deregulatory and Other Measures) Bill 2015 into the House. If passed, it will remove the requirement for private parties to seek Ministerial consent when bringing an action for a breach that takes place overseas. The Bill also proposes amendment to s 155 to give the Court power to compel compliance with a s 155 notice. The Bill has now been referred to the Senate Economics Committee for consideration. Submissions close on 21 April with a report due on 13 May.
31 March 2015 - Harper Review final report out today
The Final Report of the Harper Competition Policy Review will be released today by Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson. Media ahead of the release includes the following: Marianna Papadakis and Jacob Greber, 'Power plays by big companies under Harper review spotlight' (AFR, 30 March 2015) and Katie Walsh, 'Harper's competition a threat to public services: ACOSS' (AFR, 30 March 2015).
31 March 2015 - 'PM declares war on spud board'
Ahead of the release of the Competition Policy Review Final Report later today, Small Minister Bruce Billson, has accused the anti-competitive WA Potato Marketing Corporation of imposing a net detriment on WA citizens of around $3.8 million a year. See Andrew Probyn and Shane Wright, 'PM declares war on spud board' (The West Australian, 31 March 2015).
30 March 2015 - Harper Review final report due tomorrow
The Final Report of the Harper Competition Policy Review will be released tomorrow by Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson. The Minister has an opinion piece in today's Australian - see Bruce Billson, 'Harper holds promise of greater competition' (The Australian, 30 March 2015)
29 March 2015 - ICN Conference to cost $500k
Featuring prominently in the news today is the anticipated cost of the next International Competition Network conference, to be hosted by the ACCC in Sydney next month. This will be the 14th annual conference of the ICN, which was established in 2001. The ACCC was one of the founding 16 member agencies of the Network which now comprises over 100 competition agencies from almost as many jurisdictions. See Matthew Knott, 'ACCC International Competition Network conference to cost $500k' (SMH, 29 March 2015). For details about the conference see the conference home page.
27 March 2015 - Harper Report to be released next Tuesday
The Harper Report is now with Bruce Billson MP and will be released next Tuesday. This will be followed by a further period of consultation of 8-10 weeks. See Report page. See further 'Ian Harper competition policy review’s path to growth' (The Australian, 27 March 2015) and Joe Aston, 'Bruce Billson, Barnaby Joyce and lots of paper' (AFR, 26 March 2015).
26 March 2015 - ACCC watching Heinz-Kraft merger
Fairfax is reporting that the ACCC is watching the proposed merger between Heinz and Kraft, announced overnight. The transaction is subject to the receipt of regulatory approvals (among other things). See Madeleine Heffernan, 'ACCC keeps its eye on Heinz-Kraft $59b merger' (AFR, 26 March 2015) (also on SMH website). See also Heinz, 'H.J. Heinz Company and Kraft Foods Group Sign Definitive Merger Agreement to Form The Kraft Heinz Company' (Heinz Press Room, 25 March 2015).
26 March 2015 - Fortescue releases statement on Forrest's iron ore comments
Fortescue Metals has released a statement relating to Chairman, Andrew Forrest's, comments relating to capping iron ore production. In it, reference is made to the provisions of section 51(2)(g) of the Act dealing with goods exclusively exported. The ACCC has, however, observed that iron ore is not exclusively exported from Australia. The statement can be viewed from the ASX site or attached to the following article: Elysse Morgan, 'Fortescue Metals defends chairman Andrew Forrest's 'cap iron ore' comments' (ABC News, 26 March 2015).
Plenty of media on the issue as well. See, for example:
- Stephen Bartholemuesz, 'Why the ACCC was so quick to leap on Twiggy' (Business Spectator, 25 March 2015)
- Matthew Stevens, Phillip Coorey and Tess Ingram, '' (AFR, 26 March 2015)
- Matthew Stevens, 'Fortescue's Andrew Forrest says Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton face iron ore 'prisoner's dilemma' (AFR, 26 March 2015)
- Matt Chambers and David Crowe, 'ACCC concerned about Andrew Forrest’s call for an iron ore cartel' (The Australian, 26 March 2015)
25 March 2015 - ACCC responds to Forrest's comments
ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, has indicated that the ACCC will be looking closely at Andrew Forrest's comments calling for iron producers to work together to cap iron ore production, noting that 'any attempt by Australian businesses to encourage competitors to restrict outputs is a matter of grave concern to the ACCC'. See press release. See also Matt Chambers and David Crowe, 'ACCC investigates Andrew Forrest call for cap on iron ore production (The Australian, 25 March 2015) and Phillip Coorey and Lisa Murray, 'Joe Hockey rejects Andrew Forrest's 'cartel' call for iron ore cap' (AFR, 25 March 2015)
25 March 2015 - Fortescue's Andrew Forrest calls for iron ore production cap
At a dinner in Shanghai last night Andrew Forrest, founder and chairman of Fortescue Metals Group' called for a cap in iron ore production to respond to price drops. See AAP, 'Twiggy hits back at big miners over glut' (Trading Room, 25 March 2015); Lisa Murray, 'Twiggy Forrest calls on iron ore miners to cap production to end price rout' (SMH, 25 March 2015) and Lisa Murray, 'Fortescue's Andrew Forrest calls for iron ore production cap' (AFR, 25 March 2015). Wow.
24 March 2015 - ACCC proposes to deny Qantas/China Eastern coordination agreement
The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing to deny authorisation for Qantas and China Eastern to coordinate operations between Australia and China. Submissions on the draft decision are due by 8 April 2015. See press release. See authorisation register.
23 March 2015 - ACCC does not oppose Denka/Mitsui’s proposed acquisition of DuPont’s chloroprene rubber business
The ACCC has announced it 'will not oppose Denka Performance Elastomer LLC’s proposed acquisition of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont)’s chloroprene rubber business'. See ACCC press release. See merger register.
22 March 2015: Ferguson: 'Business awaits Ian Harper's report on competition policy'
Adele Ferguson has an item in today's Financial Review regarding the imminent release of the Harper review final report. See Adele Ferguson, 'Business awaits Ian Harper's report on competition policy' (AFR, 22 March 2015)
19 March 2015 - Bannerman Lecture published
The High Court has now published Chief Justice French's Bannerman Lecture, delivered on 26 February 2015: French, The Moving Finger Writes and, Having Writ, Rewrites, Bannerman Lecture, Sydney, 26 February 2015.
18 March 2015 - ACCC to appeal Pfizer
17 March 2015 - Harper Report to be released later this month
The Harper Report, expected for release this week, has now been delayed for release later this month.
17 March 2015 - ACCC reviewing Ramsay's proposed acquisition of Wollongong Day Surgery
The ACCC yesterday commenced an informal review of Health Care Corporation Pty Ltd (Ramsay's) proposed acquisition of Wollongong Day Surgery. Market inquiry letters have been sent with a closing date for submission of 2 April 2015. View merger register. See John Durie, 'Ramsay Health Care facing competition health check' (The Australian, 17 March 2015)
17 March 2015 - Grocery code of conduct review
The Senate Economics Legislation Committee is examining whether the proposed voluntary code would be effective and will report by the end of the month. The review follows the tabling of the new Food and Grocery Code of Conduct regulations in parliament on 2 March. Submissions closed on 13 March 2015; five submissions were received (NZ Food & Grocery Council, Office of the Australian Small Business Commissioner, Law Council of Australia, Australian Dairy Farmers and Retail & Supplier Roundtable). See my review page for more detail.
Competition Policy Review (Harper)
Misuse of market power
ACCC takes on Informed Sources
The ACCC has instituted proceedings against Informed Sources and several petrol retailers alleging contravention of s 45.
Cartels and agency arrangements
The 2013 arguably inconsistent outcomes in the ANZ and Flight Centre cases in 2013 have led to some uncertainty about the circumstances in which agents may be considered in competition with their principals for purposes of the cartel laws. Both cases were appealed and judgment is pending.
Resale Price Maintenance
First Tribunal merger authorisation
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