With no warning the Harper Reforms have commenced.
Commencement is proclaimed!
Last Thursday the Governor General proclaimed that today (6 November 2017) was the day that Schedule 1 of the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Competition Policy Reform) Act 2017 would commence. Commencement of that Schedule triggers commencement of all the others as well as commencement of the misuse of market power reforms in the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Misuse of Market Power) Act 2017.
Silence is golden …?
The Harper review process commenced in 2014 and there’s been lots of political point scoring along the way and plenty of fanfare surrounding the passage of the reforms. But when it comes to the commencement of the provisions … silence. No government announcement. No ACCC media release. Just an eerie nothingness. Given the significance of the reforms, this is troubling. Hope nobody submitted the wrong authorisation form today …
Why the surprise?
The default commencement date was 28 April 2017 … unless an earlier date was proclaimed. Following passage of the main Harper bill on 18 October the ACCC reported that the Harper reforms were scheduled to ‘come into effect in the coming weeks’ (ACCC welcomes new era in competition law), suggesting an earlier date might be proclaimed. However, I think it’s fair to say nearly everyone read that to mean something beyond a fortnight … Even the gazette containing notice that the Act (that has now commenced) has received Royal Assent has not yet been published (I have been checking … every day …). That Royal Assent was given on 27 October 2017 can only be discerned from viewing the official Act.
There are also currently two interim guidelines out for review on the new misuse of market power provision, the new concerted practices laws, and new merger and non-merger authorisation guides and forms. Consultation on all of these closes 24 November 2017; we might have anticipated finalisation of this process before the new laws commenced.
All relevant provisions have now commenced. I wont revisit the changes – I covered these in my previous blog. I’m progressively updating my website with the changes, but have mercy – I thought I had much more time to do this!
As an aside … happy birthday ACCC
Incidentally, today was also they day that the ACCC commenced, 22 years ago (replacing the Trade Practices Commission as part of the Hilmer reforms).