Essential Service

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A lack of transparent pricing information caused a poor understanding by consumers of how prices were set. This was significantly worsened by a lack of competition. While market concentration was a major issue, the inquiry found prices in Australia are way higher than in many other less competitive markets.

Large price increases occurred across many sectors.

Read More Supermarkets, airlines and power companies are charging ‘exploitative’ prices despite reaping record profits

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These rules have been developed by the ACMA in response to a direction from the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, to make an enforceable industry standard that will improve safeguards for telco customers experiencing financial difficulties.

The new Telecommunications (Financial Hardship) Industry Standard 2024 requires telcos to establish and promote clearly accessible written financial hardship policies. Telcos must do more to proactively identify customers experiencing financial hardship and prioritise keeping them connected to services.

Read More New Telco Industry Standard to Address “range of financial gaps”

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[T]he research commissioned by the Competition Review Taskforce now provides clear evidence in support of merger reform, strengthening the ACCC’s confidence in its recommendations.

The research demonstrates that an estimated 1000-1500 mergers occur in Australia each year. Only  about 330 are notified to the ACCC under the existing voluntary merger regime.

About half of the 1000-1500 mergers are made by the largest one per cent of businesses.

Read More ACCC: Urgent Need for Merger Law Reform

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The Senate has established a Select Committee on Supermarket Prices, to inquire into and report on the price setting practices and market power of major supermarkets.

The committee is seeking submissions that address the terms of reference by Friday, 2 February 2024 and the committee’s final report is due by 7 May 2024.

Read More Submissions Open for Senate Inquiry into Supermarket Prices

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Every Australian deserves equitable access to banking services. That’s why the Australian Banking Association (ABA) has broadened the scope of its accessibility framework to ensure the banking sector remains inclusive in a fast-changing digital landscape.
An important addition to the Accessibility and Inclusion Principles for Banking Services is a section on embedding accessibility into digital authentication processes, as the banking industry steps up its fight against scams, fraud and identiy theft. 

Read More ABA Updates and Broadens Accessibility Framework

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“The ACCC will closely assess any proposed response, and in particular the extent to which it secures ongoing access to cash in remote and regional areas where bank branches are limited and members of the public often access cash through non-bank sources including Australia Post and retailers,” ACCC Acting Chair Catriona Lowe said.

“A key condition of this interim authorisation is that the ABA report on their discussions to maintain access to cash in regional and remote areas. This will be an important consideration for any future application for authorisation by the industry.”

Read More ACCC Authorises Industry Collaboration for Sustainable Access to Cash

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Telstra has paid a $3,010,320 penalty and refunded over $17.7 million to thousands of customers after charging them for inactive internet services over an 11-year period. A further $3.4 million is to be refunded by the end of the year.

An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation found that 6,532 customers, the majority of whom were small businesses, were wrongly billed by Telstra an average of around $2,600 between April 2012 and August 2023.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the ACMA has lost patience with Telstra after this series of significant billing errors.

Read More Telstra to Pay $24 million in Penalties and Refunds for Inaccurate Billing

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New mandatory industry codes are being developed by the Australian Government to outline the responsibilities of the private sector in relation to scam activity, with a focus on banks, digital communications platforms, and telecommunications providers. A short survey is also available for members of the public who wish to participate in the consultation process and provide information about their experience with scams, rather than provide a written submission.

You can read the Consultation Paper and how to make submissions here. Submissions are due by 29 January 2024.

Read More Have Your Say on the Scams Mandatory Industry Code Survey

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The current USO only provides consumers with a right to a standard telephone service. A standard telephone service refers to a landline (home phone) connection many of us grew up with, and must provide access to local, national and international calls, untimed local calls, and free access to emergency service numbers.

These services are essential, and for many individuals residing in regional, rural, and remote areas they are a reliable and trusted lifeline during natural disasters and emergencies.

However, communications technology and public expectations have changed since the USO was introduced, and USO reform may provide opportunities to get a better deal for consumers and ensure more reliable and robust services.

Read More Universal Service Obligations – Have Your Say in the Future of Communication

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“The proposed coordination will increase AEMO’s ability to manage the scheduling of outages, providing greater security for the supply of electricity over the next two summer periods, which are forecast to be challenging,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

Due to concerns that this kind of coordination and information sharing between competitors can reduce competition in the supply of electricity and the acquisition of maintenance services as well as create information disparities within the broader electricity market, the ACCC has imposed a series of conditions for this authorisation.

Read More Coordination Within Electricity Industry Authorised

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Digital platforms with significant market power can use practices like bundling or tying of products, pre-installation and default settings to limit customer choice or deter innovation from competitors.
“Australians increasingly use digital platforms for work, study and play and can benefit from their wide range of interconnected products and services. While the size and scale of digital platforms alone does not raise concern, there is a risk that this expansion may be driven by a desire from digital platforms to entrench or extend their market power,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

Read More Expansion of Digital Platforms Demonstrates “critical need for regulatory reform”