ACCC welcomes Harper Competition Review Draft Report

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a press release welcoming the Harper Competition Review Draft Report.

“The draft report is part of the most significant review in this area for over 20 years,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC particularly welcomes the panel’s view that there is a need to reinvigorate Australia’s competition policy, and ensure that competition policy evolves.”

Such reform was a key element of the ACCC’s submission to the Harper Competition Review Panel.

“The ACCC particularly appreciates the panel’s detailed consideration of microeconomic reform issues, especially in relation to shipping, intellectual property and parallel imports, as well as exposing sectors such as health and education to appropriate competition and improving market signals for significant national infrastructure such as roads,” Mr Sims said.

“All these items were raised in the ACCC’s submission to the Review Panel.”

The panel has also undertaken a thorough consideration of Australia’s competition law. In so doing, they have clearly had regard to established international approaches to setting the appropriate boundaries of such laws.

“The ACCC is pleased at a high level that the main concerns it expressed have been addressed. Indeed the panel has come up with a package of refinements to the Competition & Consumer Act (2010), which are intended to ensure that Australia’s competition law continues to be effective and efficient in making markets work for the benefit of consumers.”

The ACCC notes the panel’s observations about the need to sustain Australia’s commitment to competition policy and the focus on enhancing consumer welfare over the long term. The Hilmer reforms of 20 years ago demonstrated the need for durable institutions to promote competition policy. This is because implementing reforms to drive economic growth can be difficult.

The ACCC therefore welcomes the panel’s recommendation to establish an institution that will advocate for competition policy.

The ACCC will closely consider the draft report’s analysis of some institutional issues and looks forward to the community discussion it will generate. In particular, the suggestion that access and pricing regulation be separated from the ACCC is a significant structural change.

The ACCC will provide a detailed response to the Harper Competition Review Panel. Like our initial and supplementary submissions, the ACCC’s response to the draft report will focus on making markets work for everyone.

View the draft report here.