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Industry welcomes Competition Review panel's draft report

23 September, 2014

"The Australian Industry Group welcomes today's draft report from the Competition Review panel led by Professor Ian Harper," Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox asserted Monday (22 September).

"This inquiry is the first comprehensive review of Australia's competition framework since the Hilmer report in 1993," he said.

"Today's draft report is wide-ranging in its scope and makes over 50 draft recommendations aimed at improving the workings of the national economy by making it more efficient and more conducive to future job creation.

"Ai Group will carefully consider the proposed changes and consult with our members before making a response to the panel," Willox said.

"However, there are several draft recommendations announced today that we particularly welcome.

Existing secondary boycott laws

"Ai Group welcomes the recommendation that the existing secondary boycott laws be retained and potentially strengthened, and that State Courts be empowered to hear secondary boycott claims.

"We also strongly support the removal of the limitation under sections 45E and 45EA that restricts secondary boycott protections to situations where the employer is accustomed to dealing with the relevant supplier. The removal of this limitation will give more protection to employers against damaging union conduct.

Costly coastal shipping arrangements

"We welcome the Panel's recognition that the existing coastal shipping arrangements are costly and administratively complex," Willox said.

"We also welcome the panel's recommendation that the ACCC should have more proactive role connecting small business to alternative dispute resolution schemes where it considers complaints have merit but are not a priority for public enforcement given its limited resources.

Unnecessary restrictions on competition

"Ai Group also strongly supports the panel's recommendations that state and federal governments be required to review regulations in their jurisdictions to ensure that unnecessary restrictions on competition are removed. The need for more action to cut such regulation was highlighted in a recent Ai Group a survey conducted with the World Economic Forum which shows Australia was ranked 124th among global counterparts on the "burden of government regulation" in 2014-15.

"Overall, Australia's ranking on the Global Competitiveness Index (CGI) has deteriorated since 2009-10, dropping continuously from a peak ranking of 15th place in 2009-10 to 22nd place in 2014-15. This further demonstrates the need for reform across the economy including to competition policy and industrial relations. We look forward to further discussions with the panel," Willox said.