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This site is designed to provide resources relating to Australia's competition laws. In addition to the key sections highlighted above, it includes a blog, links to legislative history, information about relevant guidelines, expert and judicial profiles, a chronology of Australian competition law, key links to further resources and more. For comments, suggestions or notification of dead links please contact Julie Clarke

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15 April 2014 - Harper Review Issues Paper Released

The Issues Paper (which runs to 59 pages) for the Harper Review was released yesterday and is open for submissions until 10 June 2014. The issues paper begins with a message from the panel which states that "it is now time for 'Hilmer Mark II' and noting that they will be 'examining the broader competition framework, to make sure that it can contribute to the Australian economy for the next 20 years.'

A fact sheet has also been released. This sets out an indicative timeline for review (draft report due September 2014). Plenty of media. See further, Joanna Mather, 'Review to examine price gouging on technology' (Australian Financial Review, 14 April 2014), Peter Martin, 'Standard of living key to competition review, says Professor Ian Harper' (15 April 2014, The Age)

15 April 2014 - Woolworths breached shopper docket undertaking; Coles cleared

The Federal Court yesterday found Woolworths breached its undertaking on fuel shopper dockets from January - March this year, because its 8 cents per litre discount was contingent on acquiring Woolworths supermarket goods or services. Woolworths changed its discount structure following the ACCC's Federal Court action. Coles, on the other hand, was found not to have breached their agreement, because the higher discounts were funded primarily though Coles Express stores. The ACCC expressed disappointment that 'the Court has found that Coles and Woolworths can bundle a supermarket fuel offer with a petrol station offer'. See ACCC press release. See, eg, Amy Bainbridge, 'Woolworths found to have breached ACCC fuel dockets deal' (ABC, 14 April 2014), Blair Speedy, 'Extra supermarket fuel discount offers can continue, court rules' (The Australian, 14 April 2014), Mitchell Neems, 'ACCC welcomes Woolworths decision' (The Australian, 14 April 2014), Simon Thomsen, 'Woolies busted by competition watchdog after breaking promise on fuel discounts' (Business Insider, 14 April 2014) and Stephen Bartholomeusz, 'Discounting a hollow shopper-docket victory' (Business Spectator, 14 April 2014) (noting that the case did not investigate whether the conduct actually impacted competition and claiming that the fact that the ACCC has never sought to make the SLC case 'probably signals it doubts that case could be made')'. The judgments of Justice Robertson are now available from AustLII:

14 April 2014 - Informed Sources release petrol price app

Informed Sources has released a new petrol price app. No doubt this has been done, in part, to end the ACCC's investigation into its practises (the ACCC has said its investigation would conclude by June 30 this year - more than two years after it began); at $2.49 per download, the app may also earn them a tidy sum. See, eg, John Rolfe, 'Cheaper petrol just a click away with new smartphone app' (14 April 2014)

9 April 2014 - ACCC releases draft cartel immunity and cooperation policy for comment

The ACCC has released a draft of its new Immunity and Cooperation Policy for Cartel Conduct. See press release. See consultation hub. Closing date for submissions is 7 May 2014. This follows an earlier consultation that ran from 30 September 2013 to 28 October 2013. For further details see my Immunity review page.

9 April 2014 - Another waste tender authorisation

The ACCC has granted authorisation to Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (NSROC) and member councils to 'tender and contract jointly for the transfer, processing and disposal of household waste.' View press release. View authorisation register.

9 April 2014 - Authorisation for underground electrical works

The ACCC 'has authorised Victoria’s electricity distributors to maintain an accreditation scheme for civil contractors for underground civil works on electrical infrastructure.' View press release. View authorisation register.

7 April 2014 - Business Spectator interviews Sims

Alan Kohler and Stephen Bartholomeusz have interviewed ACCC Chair, Rod Sims. In the interview Sims defends the current structure of the ACCC, discusses competition in education and sectors in which competition is restricted (such as newsagents and pharmacies), discusses the relationship between big and small business and denies excessive focus on supermarkets (blaming the media for this perceived focus) See also Mitchell Neems, 'Sims denies excessive supermarket focus' (Business Spectator, 7 April 2014).

4 April 2014 - ACCC will not oppose Transurban Consortium's proposed acquisition of Queensland tollroad assets

The ACCC will not oppose the proposed acquisition of the tollroad and assets held by Queensland Motorways Group by a Transurban-led consortium. The ACCC concluded that the acquisition would be unlikely to substantially lessen competition. View ACCC press release. View merger register.

4 April 2014 - ACCC seeks views on CBH's proposed new port terminal access undertaking

The ACCC has invited submissions 'from interested parties in the bulk wheat export industry on CBH’s proposed new Port Terminal Services Access Undertaking'. Submissions are due by 30 April 2014. See ACCC press release. See Issues paper and related documents.

4 April 2014 - Boral, CSR brick merger plan in the news

ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, has said the ACCC will look very closely at the proposal by Boral and CSR to combine their east coast brick operations. See, John Durie, 'ACCC won't like Boral, CSR brick merger plan' (The Australian, 4 April 2014) and Tim Binsted, Max Mason, 'Boral, CSR hope to seal brick-clad deal to shore up the joint' (The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 April 2014)


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Hot topics

Son of Hilmer - Competition Policy Review

The final terms of reference and panel for the Competition Policy Review (or 'Harper Review') are now available. See Competition Policy Review Page.

Cartel immunity policy - consultation on draft immunity and cooperation policy

In May 2013 the ACCC announced on that it was commencing a review of the Immunity Policy. A public consultation followed from 30 September 2013 to 28 October 2013. On 9 April 2014 the ACCC released a draft of its new Immunity and Cooperation Policy for Cartel Conduct together with a new 'Draft Frequently Asked Questions'. See press release. See consultation hub. The closing date for submissions is 7 May 2014.

To promote the existing immunity policy, in late August 2012 the ACCC released THE MARKER.

Supermarkets and shopper dockets

The ACCC has been investigating the competitive effects of shopper dockets since the middle of 2012. At the end of July Chairman Rod Sims announced that the investigation will be finalised in the latter half of 2013 and expressed the view that the ACCC believes the escalating shopper docket petrol discounts 'is likely to have a negative impact on competition in the petrol industry'. Coles and Woolworths have now provided undertakings to the ACCC in relation to their shopper docket discounts. In February the ACCC commenced Federal Court action alleging both Coles and Woolworths breached their undertakings. On 14 April 2014 Justice Robertson handed down his judgments; his Honour found that Woolworths, but not Coles, had breached their undertakings. The judgments of Justice Robertson are now available from AustLII:

Access / Essential Facilities

In October 2012 the government announced an Inquiry into the National Access Regime to be conducted by the Productivity Commission. The final report was submitted to the Government in October 2013 and was released on 11 February 2014. See the access page.