The following is a media release by Andrew Leigh MP
Local accommodation providers will have greater control of their own businesses under a Shorten Labor Government, making small businesses more competitive and reducing the price of a weekend away.
If elected, Labor would ensure that Australia’s accommodation providers would have the ability to set their own prices so they can compete with the multinationals behind the world’s largest online booking sites.
Currently, the two big businesses that control up to 85 per cent of online accommodation bookings in Australia – Expedia and Booking.com – can put clauses in contracts with Australian hotels, motels and other accommodation that restrict their ability to promote lower prices on their personal websites. These contract terms, known as “price parity” clauses”, mean a small business cannot offer discounts or deals on their own sites if they also advertise on larger platforms. At the same time, commissions taken by booking platforms have increased and can now be up to 30 per cent of the fee charged to travellers.
The power imbalance has already been addressed overseas with countries like Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Belgium, and Austria taking action to ban these clauses.
A Shorten Labor Government would also investigate, via the competition watchdog, the use of such clauses across other platforms and industries.
This measure will build on Labor’s strong suite of plans to tackle Australia’s competition problem. Labor has pledged to:
- Give consumer and small business advocacy groups the power to make ‘supercomplaints’ about consumer rip-offs;
- Protect small business through making unfair contract termsillegal;
- Make it easier and cheaper to send money to family and friends overseas by requiring full fee disclosureon remittances;
- Make it more affordable to fix your carby requiring car manufacturers to share technical information with independent mechanics on commercially fair and reasonable terms;
- Introduce an industry-specific code under the Competition and Consumer Act to deliver clear rules to better regulate negotiations betweenmanufacturers and dealerships;
- Double the competition regulator’s litigation budget and amending the Competition and Consumer Act to give a truly independent market studies function to the regulator;
- Allow the Courts to apply higher penalties for conduct that targets or disproportionately impacts disadvantaged Australians;
- Require the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission prioritise investigations of conduct that targets or disproportionately impacts disadvantaged Australians;
- Investigate the impacts of increased market concentration on income inequality in Australia and produce policy recommendations on how the negative effects of market concentration can be mitigated;
- And encourage States and Territories to include competition principles in planning and zoning legislation, as recommended by the Harper Review, with a specific focus on shortfalls of appropriately zoned land for key services in disadvantaged communities.
Last month, Labor policy became law when the Coalition was forced to vote for our plans to help small business to bring cases of anti-competitive behaviour to court.
Increasing competition helps drive costs down for consumers by correcting the power imbalance between small business and the big end of town. It’s good for Australian workers, it’s good for Australian consumers and it’s good for Australia’s economy.