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Australian Competition Law: Expert Profiles

Ron Bannerman (dec.)

Former Chairman, Trade Practices Commission
21 November 1921 - 27 July 2013

 

Relevant qualifications and honours

  • Image representing graduationLLB University of Sydney
  • Admitted to the Bar (1952)

 

Relevant work history and committee involvement

  • Image of briefcase1974-1984 - First Chairman of the Trade Practices Commission
  • 1966-1974 - Commissioner of Trade Practices
  • 1965-1966 - First Assistant Secretary (Executive), Attorney-General's Department
  • 1962-1965 - Assistant Secretary (Executive), Attorney-General's Department
  • 1952-1962 - Solicitor

 

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Following his passing on 27 July 2013 the ACCC released the following statement ('ACCC says farewell to Ronald Moore Bannerman AO' (31 July 2013)):

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission pays tribute to the life and work of Ron Bannerman, the first Chairman of the Trade Practices Commission who died in Canberra on Saturday.

The Trade Practices Commission was the immediate predecessor to the ACCC.

Ron became Chairman of the Commission upon its establishment in October 1974 and held the post until his retirement from the Commission in December 1984.  Previously he had been the first and only Commissioner of Trade Practices from 1966 to October 1974.

Mr Bannerman started his career in 1938 at the age of 17 years when he joined the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s office in Sydney. He began legal studies at Sydney University but they were interrupted by his army service during the Second World War. After the war he completed his studies and was admitted to legal practice in New South Wales in 1952. He practised as a solicitor with the Crown Solicitor (now the Australian Government Solicitor) until 1962 when he moved to a senior position in the Attorney-General’s Department in Canberra before being appointed Commissioner of Trade Practices in 1966.

As Commissioner of Trade Practices, Ron had reported on the extensive restrictive practices that were then commonplace in business, he described this as “the web of anti-competitive restriction that lay across Australian industry”. These annual reports created a strong constituency supporting the strengthening of competition and consumer law in Australia which led to the enactment of the Trade Practices Act in 1974. 

Ron considered his greatest achievement as Chairman of the TPC was to lay solid foundations and achieve credibility for regulation of competition and fair trading.  He described this in an interview published to commemorate 20 years of the operation of the Trade Practices Act. 

He said that by 1983, “it was clear that the Act had solid bipartisan and community support, also intellectual underpinning from academics and practising professionals, and its administration was respected in industry. The Act was permanent. It had passed from the stage of exaggerated fears of sudden death for much of industry, and unrealistic expectations of instant heaven from small business and the consumer. It was accepted as being longer term in its major thrusts and being a force for institutional change.”

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said:  “Although I did not ever work with Ron I know he was widely regarded as an outstanding lawyer and man of enormous integrity.  He was a wise and highly effective leader of the Commission. He oversaw the development of competition and fair trading regulation so that they became intrinsic parts of Australian business culture.  As he said, they went from “merely being words in a statute to becoming a living institution that is now part of our culture”.  It is a great tribute to him that this achievement has endured.”

 

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Further reading