CFA responds to COVID19 cooperation proposals from NBN Co, Australian Energy Council and Private Healthcare Australia

The Consumers’ Federation of Australia has made submissions to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) responding to authorisation applications from NBN Co, the Australian Energy Council (AEC) and Private Healthcare Australia Limited (PHA).

Businesses can seek authorisation from the ACCC where conduct risks breaching competition laws but is in the public interest.

While CFA is generally supportive of the interim authorisations for the AEC, some enhancements should be made to ensure consumers benefit sufficiently from the authorisation.

CFA highlights that financial relief programs should be consistent and establish a reasonable minimum standard. Consumer representative groups should be consulted about the design of such programs.

CFA is also supportive of PHA’s application and the interim authorisation; however, the proposed conduct should be tightened to prevent anti-competitive behaviour by health insurers that could result in public detriment.

CFA, together with The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and Consumer Action Law Centre, has told the ACCC that it is not clear that an authorisation for NBN Co is necessary in order to provide economic stress alleviation measures and capacity optimisation strategies during the current health crisis.

Information from consumers would suggest that the authorisation has not prevented disconnections nor resulted in higher industry standards in relation to economic hardship assistance.

Earlier this month CFA made two submissions to the ACCC responding to authorisation applications from Australia’s banks and supermarkets.

All submissions are available to view here.