Senator Joyce’s Concerns Baseless

The BCA is extremely disappointed at the decision of Senator Barnaby Joyce to vote against part of the Dawson reforms to the Trade Practices Act.

BCA President Hugh Morgan said Senator Joyce’s decision had jeopardised all of the reforms recommended by the independent Dawson Committee, including those reforms sought by small business.

“As part of the Dawson package the BCA and its Members had accepted proposals to significantly boost the ability of small business to collectively negotiate with larger business.

“That package includes improvements to the process of considering whether mergers should proceed.”

“The BCA has not sought changes to the law governing when mergers can proceed. The law on whether companies can merge would remain the same, but with more accountable processes built into the merger procedures.”

“Senator Joyce’s concerns that the changes would lead to increased consolidation in the retail sector are baseless,” Mr Morgan said.

ABS figures show that inflation in Australia has dropped from 6.9 per cent in 1990 to 2.5 per cent, due in large part to a highly competitive retail environment.

Employment in the retail trade sector has increased by over 320,000 in the last decade. The market share of independent retailers has also grown in that time. As Andrew Reitzer, CEO of Metcash, the wholesale supplier to independent grocers, put it at the recent Metcash AGM, Metcash customers were now bullish about their longer-term prospects.

Mr Morgan said Senator Joyce’s actions concentrated purely on the retail sector, which was illogical.

“Rejecting the merger changes is going to make it more difficult for Australian exporters to compete in regional and local markets at a time when we should be encouraging the export sector,” he said.

The BCA calls on the government to reverse the splitting of the bill and for the Senate to pass this long-delayed legislation.