Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public
Press release, 9 March 1998
AGS ATTEMPT TO PROFIT FROM ACCC HIGHLIGHTED IN COMMITTEE REVIEW
'Attempts by the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) to profit from
the ACCC while accepting a subsidy from private sources with a potential
vested interest was highlighted in a Committee report to Parliament today.'
'The need for greater transparency by the ACCC in s 87B takeover undertakings
also was raised again.'*
The Financial Institutions Committee today tabled its Review of the
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission annual report 1996-97 which
addresses several important aspects of the performance of the ACCC and
operation of the Trade Practices Act.
David Hawker MP, Chairman of the Committee, said 'The significant powers
of the Commission have profound effects on business's competitiveness
both domestically and internationally and on the benefits of competition
flowing through to consumers.'
'Businesses continue to be critical of the ACCC's activities, particularly
in mergers and acquisitions.'
Mr Hawker said 'In its report the Committee has sought to enhance the
transparency of the ACCC's activities and to ensure the Commission is
accountable. The Committee has addressed the following matters:
- the need for guidelines on the ACCC's use of information from the
private sector in the preparation of trade practices cases;
- the AGS backdown on accepting legal resources from Optus in the Foxtel/Australis
Media merger case;
- the implications of changing concentration thresholds in merger cases;
- the significant withdrawal of ACCC involvement in compliance work
related to s 87B undertakings;
- perceptions of an ACCC conflict of interest with Optus and restrictions
on the use of 131 008 mobile phone access;
- the continuing need for enhancing transparency in s 87B undertakings;
- the need for the ACCC to monitor and evaluate the impact of merger
- the extent to which the benefits of competition are flowing through
to rural and regional Australia.'
Mr Hawker noted that 'The Government's response (tabled in the House
last week) to the Committee's previous report on the ACCC has agreed to
further work by the ACCC and the Productivity Commission on the last three
matters outlined above.'
'The ACCC's activities have the potential to encourage large and lasting
benefits from competition reform to flow through to the Australian community.
The Committee's report is designed to assist in ensuring these benefits
are forthcoming' concluded Mr Hawker.
9 March 1998
* Note: s 87B undertakings can be accepted by the ACCC when businesses
agree that they will cease particular conduct or undertake specific action
to redress action that may have breached the Trade Practices Act.
David Hawker, MP (Chairman) Parliament House (02) 6277 4100
Bev Forbes (Inquiry Secretary) (02) 6277 4587
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