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B2004/32 - TPA reform needed to ‘tilt the seesaw’ for small business

Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Ron Boswell said today that more support was needed for legislative changes to ‘tilt the seesaw’ of market power back to a balance between small and large business by implementing some recommendations of the recent Senate Economics References Committee Report, as well as those of the Dawson Review.
“I have maintained throughout this most recent debate on Trade Practices in Australia that we need to tilt the seesaw back toward small business to balance the market power wielded by big business,” Senator Boswell said.

“Collective bargaining, as proposed by Dawson, with the inclusion of collective boycott rights will be essential to giving some clout back to small business in their negotiations with the bigger companies,” Senator Boswell said.

“However, we must ensure that granting a right to collectively negotiate never forms the basis of discrimination against a group formed to collectively negotiate.”

“It is most important for big business to recognise that a right to collectively negotiate is granted by the law and is a legitimate part of the bargaining process, that it is here to stay and that they must always operate within its framework.”

“The Dawson Review did not address proposed changes to Section 46 of the TPA except to recommend against the introduction of an effects test, and did not consider public submissions on the Boral and Rural Press High Court decisions.”

“However, the Senate Committee did focus on the conduct of big business and has examined Section 46 closely, recommending some changes to assist in restoring the intent of the Section.”

“The Boral and Rural Press cases confirmed the need for Section 46 to be restored after the High Court ruled in the Boral case that a company had to hold a virtual monopoly in a market to be found to have engaged in predatory pricing.”

“Senator Brandis’ recommendations to allow courts to consider the ability of a company to recoup costs from predatory pricing, the financial resources available to price below cost for extended periods of time, and their power in other markets, to determine if a company has engaged in predatory pricing, will be central to restoring the intent of Section 46.”

“I also welcome the proposal to lift the transaction-value threshold from $3 million to $10 million for small business cases to be considered for unconscionable conduct by the ACCC,” Senator Boswell said.

Senator Boswell said that implementation of those proposed changes to s46 and s51AC of the TPA supported by government Senators, coupled with collective bargaining provisions proposed by the Dawson Review, would assist small business to interact and compete with larger businesses on a more-even footing.

“It is important to create an environment where small business have the power to stand up to bigger businesses if and when they engage in anti-competitive behaviour, an that is what Senator Brandis’ recommendations, coupled with the Dawson proposals, will help to achieve.”


Media Contact - Paul Leven 02 6177 3244