Monday, June 17, 2024

Business groups unite to strengthen competition laws

A broad coalition of more than 25 peak business bodies has formed an unprecedented alliance to advocate for change to the laws governing the misuse of market power.

The coalition comprises small, medium and large businesses and represents more than two million businesses employing more than five million people across the spectrum of industries.

Member associations include Australian Dairy Farmers, Australian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association, Australian Retailers Association, Central Markets Association of Australia, Convenience and Mixed Business Association Inc, Franchise Council of Australia, Fresh Markets Australia, Master Grocers Australia and National Farmers’ Federation.

The coalition points to a serious deficiency in Australia’s competition dynamic and says a practical mechanism is needed to ensure healthy competition in markets comprising business enterprises of all sizes.

The proposed amendment would alter section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act to read: “A corporation that has a substantial degree of power in a market shall not engage in conduct that has the purpose, effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition in that or any other market.”

The coalition says the proposed amendment will mean more competition, a better deal for Australian consumers and improvements to productivity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

“The proposed change to section 46 moves Australian law closer to international best practice, which prohibits unilateral conduct by a dominant firm that has a harmful effect on competition,” the coalition said. “Australia’s current approach, focusing solely on the purpose of the dominant firm to establish a contravention of unilateral conduct prohibitions, is rare.

“We urge the Government to keep faith with its broad base of business support and with the millions of ordinary Australians who simply want a fair go at building their own enterprises.”

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