The government has announced further amendments to existing competition law that will help small businesses grow and protect them from anti-competitive conduct.
The tranche of reforms follow last month’s changes to section 46 of the Competition Act which now safeguard small business from the misuse of power by corporate competitors. The reforms have been described by the Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack as particularly important.
“I am proud of this Government’s commitment to helping small business thrive and grow, and these reforms which come into effect in the coming weeks strengthen Australia’s competition laws and ultimately benefit small business and the economy,” said McCormack.
“These reforms are a key part of the Coalition Government’s response to the Harper Competition Policy Review to increase choice and deliver better services and outcomes for Australian small businesses and consumers,” McCormack added
McCormack said the changes will protect small business from anti-competitive conduct and provide a level playing field for competition.
The key amendments include:
- replacing the never-used and unworkable price signalling provisions with a general prohibition on concerted practices that substantially lessen competition;
- abolishing the formal merger clearance process and providing for merger authorisation applications to be heard first by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and reviewed by the Australian Competition Tribunal;
- introducing class exemptions for conduct that the ACCC determines does not raise competition concerns; and
- amending the National Access Regime to better target the lack of competition in markets for infrastructure services where third party access is required.