Australian Competition Law Needs Reform: ACCC
Australia’s competition law and policies need to be overhauled if our market economy is to move forward.
That’s according to ACCC Chair Rod Sims, who says that innovation, productivity and the welfare of Australians depend on an adequate level of competition in the marketplace.
In a speech to the Competition Law and Economics Workshop, Sims outlined three main competition issues that need to be addressed: merger law reform, the need to prove the future in competition cases, and the role of new regulation for digital platforms.
“Merger control is critical to protecting and promoting competition. It is the gatekeeper, protecting us from the negative effects of increases in concentration,” Sims said.
“If we are serious about protecting competition in this country, we must ensure our merger control regime works as effectively as possible, and that it is consistent with international best practice.
The ACCC’s need to prove the likely future state of competition in merger cases and cases involving anti-competitive conduct is also an issue.
“The fundamental issue is that when applying our ‘substantial lessening of competition’ test in merger cases and other competition cases, the approach taken by the courts currently requires the ACCC to prove what is likely to happen in the future, rather than considering the overall interference to the competitive process which will be caused by the acquisition of a key player by its closest competitor or by other anti-competitive behaviour.”
And then there is the ongoing debate about antitrust laws, which Sims said the ACCC is “in the thick of”.
“Around the world, there is growing recognition among relevant authorities that existing anti-trust laws have not held up well to the challenges posed by digital markets,” he explains.
The ACCC will give its advice in a report of the Digital Platform Services Inquiry, which is due to the Treasurer in September 2022.
“Importantly, we will seek industry views on this crucial question, and we will liaise closely with the Commonwealth Treasury” Sim concluded.