Competition Law

Australian Competition Law and Policy Discussion

Emerson: Labor is the Party of Competition

Posted by Julie Clarke on 2 September 2009

On Monday the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP, Minister for Competition (among other things), delivered a speech tot he Committee for Economic Development of Australia outlining Labor’s approach to competition and consumer policy.

The discussion of competition policy is very good.  In the context of competition law and proposed amendments Emerson discusses the ‘Blacktown Amendment’, proposed by Senator’s Joyce and Xenophon, which proposes to make unlawful the selling of the same product at different prices within a 35km radius.  Emerson is highly critical of the bill, claiming Adam Smith would have described it as ‘a conspiracy against the poor’ and suggesting the description would not ‘be too far off the mark’.  The speech is highly critical of protectionist policies generally and notes that policy proposals ‘that are pro-competitive will get a sympathetic hearing [from the Government] while those that are anti-competitive will be listened to with great precaution and examined with the most suspicious attention’.

Emerson also notes, in the context of competition policy, the Government proposals to ‘improve the timeliness and effectiveness of decision-making process under the national access regime …’

No mention is made of the current reviews into creeping acquisitions and the meaning of ‘understanding’.

Despite the title of the speech, Emerson also spends some time discussing current and future reforms to Consumer law, including the unfair terms provisions, the current review into the unconscionable conduct provisions of the TPA and the proposed additional powers for the ACCC and ASIC to seek civil penalties under the Australian Consumer Law.

Worth a read.

View speech.

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