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ACCC welcomes competition law amendments

October 19, 2017

The Australian Parliament’s latest legislation has won the Commission’s seal of approval.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has welcomed two recent legislative amendments to Australian competition law passed through Parliament, on the recommendation from the 2015 Harper Competition Policy Review.

The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Competition Policy Review) Bill, which passed this week, follows August’s Competition and Consumer Amendment (Misuse of Market Power) Bill.

The Competition Policy Review legislation contains a wide variety of amendments to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, applying to areas including cartels, price signalling, exclusionary provisions, and merger authorisations.

The intention of the Misuse of Market Power legislation, meanwhile, is to strengthen the prohibition on corporations’ misuse of market power. The existing ‘purpose’ test will be replaced by a ‘purpose or effects test’; this will prevent any corporation with substantial market power from engaging in conduct that has the ‘purpose, effect or likely effect’ of lessening competition.

 “I am pleased to see these important reforms pass through the Parliament,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “The reforms to the misuse of market power prohibition and the new prohibition of anti-competitive concerted practices will improve our ability to target conduct harming the Australian economy.”

“These new laws have far reaching implications for the Australian economy, and should significantly boost growth,” Mr. Sims continued. “The Harper Review recommended these changes to enhance the benefits that should flow to consumers and businesses when markets operate efficiently.”

The ACCC has also established a Substantial Lessening of Competition Unit (SLC Unit) to help facilitate enforcement of, and compliance with, the legislation. The Unit will be responsible for investigations and litigation within the Commission, concerning misuse of market power and concerted practices; it is due to release new guidance to help businesses understand and comply with the new law.

“The ACCC looks forward to the challenges and opportunities that will come with enforcing this legislation, for the benefit of Australia’s economy and consumers,” Mr Sims said.

The two amendments are scheduled to come into effect in the coming weeks.

 

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