BCA Statement on Harper Competition Policy Review

"The final report of the Competition Policy Review puts forward a substantive microeconomic reform agenda that can set Australia up for continued economic growth and strong job creation," BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said. 

"The opportunities for reform reflected in this report, combined with opportunities from the government's other reform processes including tax reform and reform of the federation, can position Australia for a bright future. 

"Reinvigorated competition policy is good for consumers, and good for businesses competing in a global economy and facing substantial digital disruption. Making Australia's markets more competitive will allow Australian companies to innovate, grow and create jobs. 

"The recommendations in this report deserve serious consideration by federal, state and territory governments and opposition parties. The economic benefits will only be fully realised if leaders work together to implement this very detailed and extensive reform agenda. 

"National Competition Policy reforms of the 1990s boosted national productivity and set us up for a remarkable period of growth. The response to this review needs to be as forward-looking and apolitical as it was then. 

"The report provides governments with a road map and timeline for reform. Critical to the road map is the establishment of the Australian Council for Competition Policy to drive implementation and monitor progress. 

"This body needs to be independent and have the full support of all governments. Competition payments should be tied to performance and ensure that revenue gains accrue to the jurisdictions undertaking the reform. 

"Key areas nominated for regulatory reform, including transport regulation and retail trading hours, will assist specific sectors to respond to changing economic forces and improve service provision. 

"The report also provides clear directions for governments to improve economy-lifting competition through better competitive neutrality policies and government procurement. 

"Proposed changes to the delivery of human services are far reaching and wil require extensive program redesign. The benefits to recipients from greater choice and innovation could be significant."

Ms Westacott said the report contains a number of positive recommendations to simplify the Competition and Consumer Act (CCA). 

"We remain concerned about the revised proposal to introduce an effects test under section 46 but we will take the time to give full consideration to the proposal. Any changes must be subject to a rigorous Regulatory Impact Assessment and cost-benefit analysis. 

"The report's recommended changes to Australia's institutional settings will be integral to delivering the objective of fit-for-purpose competition policy on an ongoing basis. 

"The introduction of a national pricing and access regulator will create a centre of excellence for access regulation and should, in time, lead to greater national consistency for businesses operating across jurisdictions. 

"We agree with the panel's view that there is a need to inject a wider range of expertise into ACCC decision-making and that the ACCC should establish a media code of conduct."

Ms Westacott said the BCA will provide a detailed submission in response to the final report during the upcoming consultation phase. 

For further information contact:
Scott Thompson, Director, Media and Public Affairs
Business Council of Australia
Telephone (03) 8664 2664 • Mobile 0403 241 128