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Competition Articles

Weaponising the ACCC to address cartels: more market controls planned

Catallaxy Files, 16 April 2019

Having seen the ACCC staffing levels increase 10 per cent since 2014 with a further increase of 14 per cent budgeted for next year, Chairman Rod Sims is out campaigning for additional resources to combat cartels. Sims’s views are in line with those of a predecessor, Graeme Samuel, who said ‘cartel behaviour is, in

Energy policy, price escalation and the destruction industry competitiveness

Catallaxy Files, 8 June 2018

For some in Australia, the renewable rich UK electricity market is a beacon. ​ Wind produced 15 per cent of the UK’s electricity in 2017 and was running at 29 per cent earlier this year bringing Emma Pinchbeck, executive director of RenewableUK to opine, “The move to a smart, renewables-led energy system is well

ACCC offers no answers to government created energy crisis

Catallaxy Files, 21 September 2017

Appointed as head of the ACCC by Rudd Gillard, Rod Sims has a long association with the ALP going back to the Whitlam years. His re-appointment by the Coalition is unsurprising given the callow nature of conservatives and the fact that many have interventionist sympathies that accord with those of the leftist

ACCC offers no answers to government created energy crisis

Catallaxy Files, 21 September 2017

Appointed as head of the ACCC by Rudd Gillard, Rod Sims has a long association with the ALP going back to the Whitlam years. His re-appointment by the Coalition is unsurprising given the callow nature of conservatives and the fact that many have interventionist sympathies that accord with those of the leftist

Don’t allow regulators access to infrastructure developments

Catallaxy Files, 9 September 2016

In today’s AFR Matthew Stephens has an excellent piece pointing to the irony of Fortescue Metals facing a claim by another iron ore producer, the Chinese owned Brockman Mining, to make use of spare capacity on its rail line in the Pilbara. The claim is based on competition policy notions that firms should be

Competition and its ACCC moochers

Catallaxy Files, 6 August 2015

In responding to an article by Craig Emerson, Rod Sims yesterday promoted the case for making the misuse of market power section (46) easier to use to prosecute those employing monopoly powers to restrain competitors. This case was among the otherwise sensible recommendations in the Harper 

Final episode in the drawn-out Holden drama

Australian Financial Review 12th December, 2013

Bill Carmichael in an op ed piece in today’s, The Australian promotes many of the right policies for sound government. He suggests we should have a level playing field – though in citing business leaders in support of this he is being rather selective.

Negotiating the path to free trade

Catallaxy Files, 2 December 2014

Bill Carmichael in an op ed piece in today’s The Australian promotes many of the right policies for sound government. He suggests we should have a level playing field – though in citing business leaders in support of this he is being rather selective. And he rails against the appalling anti-dumping 

Consumer policy: Xenophon calls for price rises while Harper seeks reductions

Catallaxy Files, 22 September, 2014

Nick Xenophon while not a socialist is one of those politicians who are perplexed that competition can bring benefits rather than costs in terms of jobs. He has previously unloaded against discount milk in supermarkets and now wants to stop supermarkets selling cheap bread, claiming that if they do the 

ACCC needs to wear realities of fashion's changing look

Herald Sun 1st June, 2012

With fashion goods in retailing, the internet has introduced new and unpredictable marketing dilemmas. It has changed the way almost all of us go about shopping. It has vastly complicated firms' approaches to the traditional trade-offs between what they charge for their products, the distribution 

Hazelwood decision is a victory for common sense

The Herald Sun 27th May, 2011

THE Commonwealth Government is flooding the media with climate change and carbon tax reports from taxpayerfinanced scientists and other propagandists. This ensures the continued prominence of its agenda for business decisions. In Victoria, the Government has sensibly overturned 

Samuel uber alles

Catallaxy Files, 11 May 2014

Taxi licensing has long been a means of limiting supply of a product with a view to raising its price. Taxi plates sell at up to half a million dollars with this cost passed onto consumers in fares that are above the market rate. In the process, plate holders earn economic rents in the form of the capitalised 

The murky business of sport

ABC The Drum Unleashed 26th April, 2010

Lost in the endless vilification of Melbourne Storm is the notion of what salary capping means. It is an agreement by a group of businesses to suppress the wages of their key employees. Think of it like all the nation's banks forming a cartel and agreeing that they will limit the salaries of all their front 

My shovel's better than yours 27th October, 2009

According to the report for the Business Council, Groundwork for Growth, by Port Jackson Partners, only 14 per cent of the $76 billion it regards as stimulus spending was on infrastructure. That actually overstates the real amount since it includes all those unnecessary school assembly halls, welfare

Where's the breadth of vision in Rudd's broadband plan?

The Age 15th April, 2009

With the national broadband network (NBN), Kevin Rudd is stepping into the breach to save the Australian economy for the fifth time. Already we've had two fiscal stimuli of $10 billion and $42 billion, a guarantee of $30 billion to bankroll the shopping centres and the climate change program to force 

Watchdog misses chain reactions

The Age 22nd May, 2008

The ACCC's inquiry into grocery prices illustrates the danger of imposing an overstaffed and overzealous government agency on an industry. There are three major supermarket players and plenty of rivalry. Most large shopping centres have at least a Coles and a Safeway, and often also an IGA supermarket.

Hidden dangers in altered Trade Practices Act

The Age 29th April, 2008

Rudd to rein in business bullies" and "War on market thugs" were two headlines that accompanied the decision announced on Monday to amend the Trade Practices Act. The decision will make it easier to prosecute companies engaging in "predatory pricing"

Competition a loser in price regulation lottery

Herald Sun 19th April, 2008

As consumers we all grumble about price rises. For most goods and services, competition means rivals will undercut suppliers that try to raise prices above costs. But where there is a single monopoly supplier these restraints don't apply.

Cartel's price fall was one out of the box

The Herald Sun 20th October, 2007

Challenging the election campaign for newspaper space this week has been a different form of competition. This concerned the rivalry between Visy and Amcor for the cardboard box market. Like the election campaign, it involved desperation, deception and duplicity.

The cartel that came unstuck - and why Dick agreed to go for a Prattfall

The Age 11th October, 2007

Just two of the many headlines over reports of the Visy/Amcor cartel price-fixing revelations were "ACCC catches up with cartels" and "Customers held in contempt". As well as providing a chance to kick a tall poppy, the story has been a bonanza for those who believe business is all about companies getting

Consumers the big winners from open competition policy

The Age 11th August, 2007

Australia is a small community geographically isolated from the rest the world. But the companies operating in our markets have the same potential economies of scale and scope as those in larger markets. Hence Australia is never likely to host the wide variety of players in those sectors where there is

Cut-price drugs weaken industry

The Herald-Sun 28th July, 2007

Oxfam Australia and other anti-business advocacy groups have long been antagonistic to the idea of patent protection for new medicines. The prevalence of AIDS within the world's poorest countries has brought intensified demands on "unscrupulous big

Rudd's broadband plan doomed to commercial failure

The Age 23rd March, 2007

Stephen Bartholomeusz got it right yesterday when he likened the Rudd-Conroy proposal to fund a broadband network by raiding the Future Fund to failed government policies picking winners.

Reform that threatens our prosperity

Australian Financial Review 29th January, 2007

Mineral exports, largely fuelling China's industrial expansion, have been vital to the health of the Australian economy. Almost all of Australia's increased exports over the past three years have comprised coal and iron ore. This bolstering

BHP shouldn't have to share

Australian Financial Review 19th December, 2006

Inching its way through the court system is a case of immense importance to the future of Australia's major industries. The case concerns the attempt by Fortescue Metals Group and the National Competition Council to force BHP Billiton to share its Pilbara rail

Open competition means playing to win

The Herald Sun 18th November, 2006

A key reason why Australia has enjoyed prosperity over the past dozen years is the opening up of the economy to greater competition. One part of this was reform to abolish monopolies held by government businesses and private companies protected by government regulations

ACCC's big calls on Telstra cost too much

Australian Financial Review 25th October, 2006

Reading between the lines, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission appears to be engaged in a subtle process of making significant changes in its approach to the regulatory "declaration" of telecommunications facilities.

Samuel's rules deny Telstra its just reward

Australian Financial Review 4th August, 2006

Talking about a new $3 billion fibre to the node telecommunications network, Communications Minister Helen Coonan said: "I gather that the ball is very much in Telstra's court and I urge them to get on to it."

ACCC undermines its case

Australian Financial Review 19th June, 2006

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel is telegraphing a greater willingness to allow mergers to proceed providing the parties offer undertakings that they will not act anti-competitively.

Watchdog barks up Telstra tree on our behalf

The Age 9th June, 2006

Ed Willett, the man in charge of telecommunications company regulation at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, at a conference on June 1 said: "Few great things have emerged from monopolies." His basic theme was that Telstra must demonstrate to the ACCC

Government is just getting in the way

Australian Financial Review 30th May, 2006

Infrastructure inadequacies are seen by many as economic choke points, but where problems have occurred they stem from governments. Congested road networks, gas pipelines, rail lines and the telecommunications network - all suffer from government intervention.

Empire-building ACCC must be reined in

Australian Financial Review 21st February, 2006

Proceeding through the parliament is an amendment to the national access regime, which falls under the Trade Practices Act. This gives expression to recommendations made by the Productivity Commission and other reports dating back to 2001.

Regulation proves Hydra-headed

Australian Financial Review 11th January, 2006

Following the launch of the annual report of the National Competition Council in December, Treasurer Peter Costello announced competition payments to the states of $834 million. This is the final such payment from a $16 billion bag of money available on a pro rata basis to the states and territories.

Let's distinguish between dumping and differential pricing

The Age 23rd August, 2005

Zone Severn's letter (Business Age 19/8) in response to my article on dumping confuses dumping with differential pricing. Companies set different prices to meet particular market situations; we see it daily in petrol prices, which vary considerably from suburb to suburb.

Sheltering business saps competition

The Age 15th August, 2005

Many people confuse dumping with straightforward cost advantages. Writing in these pages last week, Martin Feil showed himself to be among this group. Anti-dumping actions force overseas suppliers either to raise their prices or see a special tax placed on their imports.

Resist protection in all guises

Australian Financial Review 22nd December, 2004

Silicon, copper tubes, polyethylene structural steel and washing machines are among 40 products presently subject to dumping investigations or penalties. Anti-dumping actions, always a tool in the protectionist armoury,

Long on Flaws, Short on Fixes

Australian Financial Review 24th August, 2004

According to the ACCC's consultants, price and access regulation of gas and electricity networks has increased national wealth by somewhere between $2 billion and $11 billion. On several occasions the ACCC's Energy Commissioner, Ed Willett, has cited these estimates

Competition Better than Regulatory Compulsion

Australian Financial Review 29th October, 2003

We have now seen almost a decade of contention over the regulatory regime for controlling Australia's natural gas supply. The present warzone is a Productivity Commission Review. Behind arguments about regulated price outcomes is a four-way conflict. Pipeliners want to build new facilities and

Power in ACCC's Hands

Herald Sun 9th August, 2003

Allan Fels, in his last month at the ACCC, left a poisoned chalice to successor Graeme Samuel. Fels opposed a consortium's acquisition of the giant Loy Yang generator, putting at risk the resolution of its financial distress. Loy Yang is one of the lowest cost electricity generators in Australia. But former Treasurer 

Who's Hurting Who?

Herald Sun 29th June, 2002

Monopolies and mergers policy is up for review. The Commonwealth has given the job to former High Court judge Sir Daryl Dawson. As always, the issues revolve around how to prevent a supplier being able to charge excessive prices. The task in detecting such market power is difficult. This is because nearly 

The folly of setting prices

Australian Financial Review 13th November, 1999

John Quiggin ('Microsoft deserves a hard time' AFR 11 Nov) demonstrates gaping holes both in his knowledge of competition law and in his awareness of the importance of incentives for innovation. He argues that Microfoft's

Why We Should Have More Casinos and Gaming Machines

The Age 27th November, 1998

Spending on gaming appears to have grown rapidly over recent years. Part of this may be due to the recording of previously illegal activity. However it has also been fuelled by the availability of new gambling forms, in particular

Make ACCC Show a Proposed Merger is Harmful

The Australian 10th November, 1998

Last month, Don Mackay, the Chairman of Wattyl Paints, used the platform of his Annual General Meeting to criticise the ACCC for preventing his company from taking over Taubmans. This resulted in the conjugal rights to Taubman's passing to Barlow Ltd of South Africa

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