Thursday, May 30, 2024

ACCC advocates for competition

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims has stressed the importance of competition, saying there are positive signs for it in retail.

Speaking at the AFR Retail Summit in Melbourne, Mr Sims said competition is essential to economic prosperity, innovation and productivity, lower costs and improved product quality.

“While all economists welcome competition, of course businesses usually do not,” he said. “In particular, competition is benefitting from online sales challenging the established bricks and mortar stores. Going forward, our main competition role in retail will be to ensure new entrants are not prevented from competing on their merits. We will, therefore, be alert to the consequences of large firms acquiring promising start-ups, closely monitor access-to-data issues and continue to support the proposed Harper changes to section 46.”

Mr Sims outlined the use of laws to good effect, such as addressing supply chain issue and ensuring honest promotional claims, while backing the Harper Review’s calls to ensure retail regulations around liquor licensing, planning and zoning don’t have unintended competition consequences.

In providing an update on supermarket supplier issues, he says the ACCC has seen changes in the way retailers behave, but the problems have not been solved.

“We’re looking at reports of behaviour associated with the [Food and Grocery] Code and we’re advising suppliers who have concerns about their dealings with the supermarkets to raise them with the ACCC, confidentially if required,” Mr Sims said.

Following actions involving Nurofen, Coles par-baked bread and Paddle Pops, Mr Sims said providing consumer protection will very often enhance competition and the benefits that flow from it.

“The Australian Consumer Law protects consumers, but it also has a powerful effect on competition,” he said. “It enables businesses and retailers to compete on their merits, not falsehoods.”

Mr Sims also told retailers that consumer guarantees and product safety are key areas of focus for the ACCC in the retail sector.

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