Better protection for small business delivered

SMALL business is the big winner today, after the Government legislated a second tranche of major amendments to Australia’s competition law.

Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack said the reform is particularly important for the more than 3.2 million Australian small businesses, which make up more than 97 per cent of all businesses.

“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 Mr McCormack.

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.

“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,” said Mr McCormack.

“They follow the recently legislated amendments to the misuse of market power – section 46 which will take effect shortly.

“These reforms will protect small business from anti-competitive conduct and provide a level playing field on which small businesses can compete.”

Sam Edwards