MGA: No turnaround on an effects test, Mr Turnbull

The release of the Productivity Commission’s draft report into the regulation of agriculture has sparked concerns that the Government will break its pre-election commitment to amend Section 46.

The Productivity Commission wrote in the draft report, “the existing competition regulation and oversight is adequate for managing concerns about abuse of market power by supermarkets and traders engaging with farm businesses”.

It goes on to say: “Introducing an ‘effects’ test to section 46 of the act is also unlikely to shield farm businesses from intense competition in retail food markets.”

MGA CEO Jos De Bruin has expressed concern over the recommendation.

“The Productivity Commission may well try to turn the Government commitment to amend Section 46 on its heels,” he said. “However, the commitment to change the law earlier this year was not given lightly. We urge the new Government to look back at the many persuasive arguments that were presented over a long period of time and respect its own conclusion that there was a need to make changes to competition law.

“In the last few weeks, we heard a prime minister throughout the election speak loudly about how much this country relies on small businesses. We sincerely hope that those were not just hollow, meaningless words. We urge the new Coalition Government to keep its word, to respect the many thousands of small businesses who trusted the promise that was made and not do an about face on the people who are the backbone of this country. We urge you to honour your word, in the interest of ‘jobs and growth’.”