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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 was released on 22 September 2014.

 

Latest Competition Law News and Commentary

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30 October 2014 - ACCC releases annual report

The ACCC has released its annual report for 2013-2014. See press release.

29 October 2014 - ACCC proposes to allow medical schools to continue streamlined admission/interview policies

The ACCC has 'issued a draft determination proposing to re-authorise policies which govern the selection and interviewing of applicants to study medicine at Australian graduate-entry medical schools'. See press release. See authorisation register.

29 October 2014 - ACCC authorises Tabcorp & TAB's international pooling arrangements

The ACCC 'has issued a determination granting authorisation to Tabcorp, TAB and TAB ACT in relation to international pooling arrangements with overseas wagering operators and Premier Gateway International (PGI) (an intermediary hub) to allow for the transmission of bets by overseas punters into Tabcorp totalisator pools and the transmission of bets by Australian punters into overseas pools'. See press release.

29 October 2014 - ACCC proposes to authorised Racing & Wagering WA's international pooling arrangements

The ACCC has ' issued a draft determination proposing to grant authorisation to Racing and Wagering Western Australia in relation to current and future pooling arrangements with overseas wagering operators to allow for the transmission of bets by Western Australian punters into overseas pools.' See press release.

28 October 2014 - Retailers in Canberra

Large retailers met with politicians and regulators in Canberra yesterday - a bit of media on this: Eli Greenblat, 'Retailers lay down deregulation gauntlet' (The Australian, 28 October 2014), Sue Mitchell and Matthew Knott, 'Australian National Retailers Association condemns Harper review's 'dangerous' competition law shake-up' (SMH, 27 October 2014) and Joanna Heath, 'Retailers slam Harper change 'drafted by lawyers'' (The Australian Financial Review, 27 October 2014 (paper version 28 October 2014, page 9))

27 October 2014 - Talks with retail giants in Canberra today

Large retail bosses will meet with politicians and regulators in Canberra today to discuss deregulation and competition issues - see Eli Greenblat, 'Retail giants take fight to regulators: closed-door talks with government' (The Australian, 27 October 2014)

25 October 2014 - Dymocks push for removal of parallel imports

The AFR has an item on Dymocks' push for removal of parallel import bans - supported by recommendations in the draft Harper Report. See Sue Mitchell, Dymocks wants book shops on a parallel with Amazon' (The Australian Financial Review, 25 October 2014, page 36) (see SMH version online)

24 October 2014 - Harper Review

John Durie has an item outlining some of the issues discussed at the Competition Policy Review International Conference held in Canberra over the last two days. See John Durie, 'Harper's health complaint' (24 October 2014)

24 October 2014 - ACCC to probe Armidale petrol prices

See Lydia Roberts, 'Breaking: Watchdog to probe city's fuel prices' (The Armidale Express, 24 October 2014)

24 October 2014 - Justice Gordon not impressed with lack of focus in ACCC case against Coles

In a directions hearing this morning Justice Gordon has criticised the ACCC for lack of focus in its unconscionable conduct claims against Coles. Justice Gordon also questioned the need for Coles to use 17 junior lawyers to defend the case. See Eli Greenblat, 'Judge slams lack of focus in ACCC cases against Coles' (The Australian, 24 October 2014)

24 October 2014 - $8.3 million forklift gas cartel fine

The Federal Court has ordered (by consent) penalties of $8.3 million against Renegade Gas Pty Ltd, Speed-E-Gas (NSW) Pty Ltd and three current and former senior officers of the companies for engaging in cartel condut. See ACCC Press Release. Read judgment.

24 October 2014 - Expedia/Wotif deal faces NZ hurdle

The ACCC approved Expedia's acquisition of Wotif on 2 October, but the deal now faces a NZ hurdle with the Commerce Commission issuing a letter of 'unresolved issues'. A decision is due on 5 November. See Clearances Register (does not include letter) and Wotif's ASX announcement. See also Jamie Freed, 'Expedia's Wotif takeover held up again' (The Australian Financial Review, 23 October 2014, page 24 (online version)).

23 October 2014 - Billson on the agriculture green paper

Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson, has spoken at the Competition Policy Review International Conference in Canberra today. John Durie has a piece in today's Australian noting that in that speech Billson stressed that it is the Harper Review, not the Agriculture Green Paper, that is the 'key tool in setting competition policy'. See Durie, 'Bruce Billson seeks to soothe supermarkets' concerns over agriculture green paper' (The Australian 23 October 2014).

See also, for example, Fluer Anderson, 'Producers in Power Push' (The Australian Financial Review, 20 October 2014, page 5), Fluer Anderson and Katie Walsh, 'Cold shoulder for carve-ups' (The Australian Financial Review, 22 October 2014, p 11), Editorial, 'Open economy is good for the farm' (Australian Financial Review, 21 October 2014, p 58), Lexi Metherell, 'Agriculture green paper to spark debate over water, competition' (ABC Radio, The World Today, 20 October 2014) and Joe Kelly, 'Green paper canvasses court orders to break up businesses' (Dynamic Business, 20 October 2014). For more detail see also my Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper page.

23 October 2014 - New publications

The latest issue of the Competition and Consumer Law Journal is out now with a couple of competition items of interest: Rhonda L Smith, 'Market definition and substitution options' and George Raitt, 'Misuse of market power: Why policy objectives matter'. Piper Alderman has also released their latest Competition and Consumer Law News (October 2014) which includes items on section 155 Notices, Merger clearance proposals, the proposed (semi) effects test for s 46 and more.

21 October 2014 - Gough Whitlam and competition law

Malcolm Maiden had an item in today's SMH on Gough Whitlam's impact on competition law - see Malcolm Maiden, 'Gough Whitlam 'changed the way business is done' with lasting competition laws' (SMH, 21 October 2014)

21 October 2014 - ACCC proposes first RPM authorisation

The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing conditional authorisation to Tooltechnic to set minimum retail prices on Festool power tools for three years. The ACCC has accepted that there is market failure caused by free riding of some Festool retailers in this case sufficient to justify authorisation. This represents the first ever application for authorisation for RPM conduct under the Act. See press release. See authorisation register. Submissions are due by 7 November. It is notable that the Harper Review has proposed retaining the per se ban on RPM, but introducing a notification option.

21 October 2014 - Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper

The Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper was released yesterday. See my Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper page for details - includes discussion of competition law 'policy ideas'.

21 October 2014 - Coles v ACCC - balance between fair trading and competition

Prof Caron Beaton-Wells has an opinion piece in today's Conversation discussing the ACCC's recent actions against Coles. See Caron Beaton-Wells, 'Coles v ACCC: finding the balance between fair trading and competition' (The Conversation, 21 October 2014)

17 October 2014 - ACCC releases Statement of Issues on proposed acquisition of Dux by Rheem

The ACCC has released a Statement of Issues outlining competition concerns relating to the proposed acquisition of the Dux hot water heater business by Rheem Australia. The ACCC has expressed concern that the proposed acquisition would substantially lessen competition 'in the supply of storage water heaters'. See press release. See merger register.

16 October 2014 - ACCC authorises owner drivers to collectively bargain with Toll Transport

The ACCC 'has granted authorisation allowing a group of small business owner drivers to collectively bargain with Toll Transport Pty Ltd for the supply of air freight courier transport services at the Toll Priority Brisbane depot.' See press release. See authorisation register.

16 October 2014 - ACCC releases Statement of Issues on CSR and Boral proposed clay brick JV

The ACCC has today released a Statement of Issues outlining competition issues arising from the ACCC's review of the proposed CSR/Boral clay brick JV. ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, stated that: "The proposed joint venture would result in a duopoly in eastern Australia. The ACCC’s preliminary view is that this would be likely to lead to an increase in the price of clay bricks as well as a reduction in the product range available to residential builders, architects, and end-consumers". Submissions on the SOI are due by 6 November with a final decision to be announced on 18 December. See press release. See merger register. See, for example, Tim Binsted, 'ACCC raises concerns about Boral-CSR brick JV' (SMH, 16 October 2014)

 

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Hot topics

Competition Policy Review (Harper)

Harper Review

Read moreThe first major review of competition policy in Australia in 20 years is underway with a draft report released 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

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

 

TPA celebrates 40 years

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Read moreOn 1 October 2014 the Trade Practices Act 1974 (now named the Competition and Consumer Act 2010) celebrated 40 years.

 

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