BCA Rejects Senate Report on Competition Law

The Business Council of Australia today warned that major changes to trade practices law, proposed by a Senate Committee inquiry, ran the risk of significant impacts on Australia’s economy.

“It must be acknowledged that the major rewrite to the language of this legislation, proposed by the committee’s majority report risks changing the whole operation of defining and policing market power,” BCA President, Mr Hugh Morgan, said.

“Either advertently or inadvertently, businesses will be exposed to fines and other sanctions while going about legitimate competitive practices.

“This will only lead to higher costs for consumers and industry.

“The fact is that large businesses continue to make a significant contribution to Australia’s economic wellbeing. Constraining the ability of large business to compete legitimately will ultimately impact on Australia’s economy.”

Mr Morgan said the BCA supported the prohibition on misuse of market power, including predatory pricing undertaken with the objective of eliminating competition.

“However, it strongly agrees with the High Court, the Law Council of Australia and other leading trade practices lawyers that section 46 of the TPA already captures this sort of anti-competitive conduct,” he said.

“The Senate Committee’s majority report’s recommendations to introduce cease-and-desist orders and give the ACCC powers to seek to have large corporations broken up flies in the face of the rejection of these proposals by the independent Dawson review.

“The BCA is concerned the committee’s majority report to effectively rewrite competition law puts politics before good law. We will continue to campaign against these proposals that effectively undermine competition to the disadvantage of consumers and industry.”