Welcome to Australian Competition Law
Latest Competition Law News and Commentary
1 September 2015 - Misuse of market power proposal splits cabinet
The Australian is reporting that Minister Billson's proposals for an effects test for s 46 have been shelved (at least for now) following division in cabinet: see David Crowe, 'Small business proposal shelved after cabinet division' (The Australian, 1 September 2015). See also, 'Coalition selling out small business to "big end of town", says lobbyists' (The Guardian, 1 September 2015)
1 September 2015 - Misuse of market power: Hockey v Billson
The Australian is reporting on the likely clash between Treasurer, Joe Hockey and Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson, over proposed changes to the misuse of market power laws to be considered by cabinet today: David Crowe, 'Small business reform to test resolve over Joe Hockey’s job' (The Australian, 1 September 2015). See also Lenore Taylor, 'Bruce Billson embroiled in cabinet split over tougher competition laws' (The Guardian, 1 September 2015)
1 September 2015 - Billson to take effects test to cabinet today
Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson, will put proposed changes to the misuse of market power test to the cabinet today. See Phillip Coorey, 'Cabinet split over crackdown on big business power' (AFR, 31 August 2015) (originally published as ' 'Cabinet to endorse crackdown on big business power'). The Minister also has an opinion piece in the AFR discussing the issue: Bruce Billson, 'Harper review misuse of market power clause would energise enterprise' (AFR, 31 August 2015).
28 August 2015 - ACCC applies for special leave in Flight Centre case
21 August 2015 - ACCC Agricultural Commissioner
Australian Farm Institute Executive Director Mick Keogh and former Regional Australia Institute CEO Su McCluskey (also a member of the Harper Panel) are said to be front runners for the ACCC's 'Agricultural Commissioner' role, recommended in July's AG White Paper. See Colin Bettles, 'Big names in running for ACCC ag role' (Australian Dairyfarmer, 21 August 2015).
21 August 2015 - Qantas/China Eastern media
There's also plenty of media following the ACCC's decision to grant conditional authorisation for the Qantas/China Eastern coordination agreement. See, eg, Matt O'Sullivan, 'ACCC drops opposition to Qantas-China Eastern alliance' (SMH, 21 August 2015), Michael Roddan, 'ACCC clears Qantas-China Eastern Deal' (The Courier Mail, 21 August 2015) and 'ACCC to approve Qantas-China Eastern alliance' (Australian Aviation, 21 August 2015)
21 August 2015 - Media on iiNet / TPG deal
Plenty of media following the ACCC's decision not to oppose TPG's proposed acquisition of iiNet. See, for example, Mitchell Bingemann, 'ACCC gives green light for TPG to take over iiNet' (The Australian, 20 August 2015), Mitchell Bingemann, 'TPG-iiNet approval marks the end of consolidation' (The Australian, 21 August 2015), 'ACCC Green Light for TPG-iiNet Merger Divides Oz Industry' (Smartoffice, 21 August 2015) and Nick Sas, 'ACCC ticks off $1.6b iiNet takeover' (The West Australian, 20 August 2015).
21 August 2015 - ACCC authorises Qantas/China Eastern Airlines deal
20 August 2015 - ACCC will not oppose acquisition of iiNet by TPG
20 August 2015 - OmniBlend fined for RPM
The Federal Court has ordered OmniBlend to pay a penalty of $17,500 for resale price maintenance in contravention of s 48 of the Act. Omniblend will also make payments towards the ACCC's costs and have given undertakings relating to compliance training. See ACCC media release. View decision at AustLII.
18 August 2015 - IP Review announced
The Treasurer today announced the terms of reference for a 12 month Productivity Commission inquiry into "Intellectual Property Arrangements", including their effect on competition and consumer welfare and having regard to, amongst other things, 'the findings and recommendations of the Harper Competition Policy Review in the context of the Australian Government's response, including recommendations related to parallel import restrictions in the Copyright Act 1968 and the parallel importation defence under the Trade Marks Act 1995'. View inquiry home page. View joint media release from the Treasurer and Minister for Small Business.
15 August 2015 - Sims' speech to the Law Council on industrial relations and competition law
Last night Rod Sims spoke to the Law Council of Australia, Business Law Section, discussing enforcement of competition law in relation to union behaviour. View speech (Meeting expectations: Industrial relations as a case study'). See also ACCC, 'ACCC on competition law enforcement in the broad industrial relations area' (media release, 15 August 2015) and Ken Phillips, 'The ACCC opens its eyes to Australia's dirty IR secret' (Business Spectator, 17 August 2015).
14 August 2015 - ACCC re-authorises Virgin/Delta Trans-Pacific alliance
The ACCC has re-authorised Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines' coordination of operations between Australia and the US for a further five years. See ACCC media release.
13 August 2015 - ACCC will not oppose Pfizer's proposed acquisition of Hospira
13 August 2015 - ACCC will not oppose Staples' proposed acquisition of Office Depot
The ACCC has indicated it will not oppose Staples' proposed acquisition of Office Depot, which it considers is 'unlikely to substantially lessen competition in any office products market'. See ACCC media release. See ACCC merger register.
Competition Policy Review (Harper)
Misuse of market power
The decision in CFMEU has cast doubt on the ability of the ACCC to negotiate 'agreed penalties' with respondents to proceedings under the CCA. Special leave to appeal to the High Court has been granted.
Cartels and agency arrangements
The 2013 arguably inconsistent outcomes in the ANZ and Flight Centre cases in 2013 have led to some uncertainty about the circumstances in which agents may be considered in competition with their principals for purposes of the cartel laws. The appeal decisions in both cases were handed down on 31 July 2015.
Resale Price Maintenance
ACCC takes on Informed Sources
The ACCC has instituted proceedings against Informed Sources and several petrol retailers alleging contravention of s 45.
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