Peter Costello

Media Releases

Amendments to the Trade Practices Act 1974

NO.094

JOINT PRESS RELEASE
TREASURER &
MINISTER FOR SMALL BUSINESS AND TOURISM

Amendments to the Trade Practices Act 1974

Amendments to the Trade Practices Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2007 have passed in the Senate, the Treasurer and Minister for Small Business and Tourism, Fran Bailey announced today.

The Bill amends the Trade Practices Act 1974 to provide greater protection against misuse of market power and unconscionable conduct.

The Government has consulted extensively with stakeholders to develop the amendments in the Bill, particularly with small business.

The Bill amends the misuse of market power provisions in section 46 of the Act to:

  • address concerns about establishing when a corporation has a substantial degree of power in a market, which is the threshold requirement for section 46 to apply;
  • specifically prohibit a corporation from leveraging market power from one market to another; and
  • refer to sustained below‑cost pricing conduct as a factor the Court may consider in deciding whether a corporation has misused its market power.

The Government’s new amendment includes a specific prohibition against a corporation with a substantial share of a market from engaging in sustained below-cost pricing conduct for the purpose of eliminating or substantially damaging a competitor, preventing the entry of a person into a market, or deterring or preventing a person from engaging in competitive conduct in a market.

The Bill also makes amendments to the unconscionable conduct provisions in section 51AC of the Act to:

  • include unilateral variation contract terms as a factor the Court may consider in deciding whether a corporation has engaged in unconscionable conduct; and
  • raise the transaction limit for section 51AC from $3 million to $10 million to extend the its application to a wider range of transactions.

Finally, the Bill creates a second Deputy Chairperson position at the ACCC.  The Government has announced that the second Deputy Chairperson appointment will be filled by a person who is experienced in small business matters.

The Bill will now be returned to the House of Representatives for final consideration.

CANBERRA
18 September 2007

Contacts:
Renae Stoikos - Treasurer's Office - 02 6277 7340
Kevin Lowe - Minister Bailey's Office - 02 6277 7450

 

18 Sep 2007

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