Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public
(Tabled on 9 March 1999)
This document has been scanned from the original government response.
It may contain some errors.
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES STANDING COMMITTEE ON
FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION REVIEW OF THE ACCC's
1996-97 ANNUAL REPORT
That the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) include
in the undertakings section of its regular publication, 'The ACCC's approach
to mergers: A statistical summary', details of the undertakings listed.
Agreed in principle.
The Government and the ACCC are committed to making its s. 87B undertaking
procedures under the Trade Practices Act 1974 (TPA) as transparent
as possible. As part of this move towards greater transparency the ACCC
has initiated a new publication entitled 'The ACCC's approach to mergers:
A statistical summary'. This publication provides an outline of the
ACCC's approach to mergers and a summary of the number of merger applications
received and the number approved or rejected over the previous few years.
General summaries of undertakings relating to merger proposals are also
included. The ACCC proposes to continue providing much of this statistical
material through its regular Journal. The ACCC will, subject to
confidentiality constraints, include more specific details of undertakings
listed in its future publications.
The Government notes that a significant amount of information regarding
s. 87B undertakings is already publicly available by accessing the public
registers kept by the ACCC or via press releases made by the ACCC in relation
to particular matters.
That as a matter of priority the ACCC prepare guidelines on the interaction
between private sector parties and the ACCC on the preparation of cases.
The preparation of the guidelines should involve public consultation and
the guidelines should be forwarded to this Committee for its consideration.
The ACCC is currently preparing guidelines on the use of external assistance
in enforcement proceedings under the TPA. These guidelines are being prepared
in consultation with the Office of Legal Services Co-ordination in the
Attorney-General's department. After drafting of these guidelines has
been completed, the ACCC proposes to make them available to interested
parties, including the Law Council of Australia, for their comments. The
ACCC will also send a copy of the draft guidelines to the Committee for
In light of the Committee's recommendations, the Attorney-General has
also written to all Ministers concerning the general issue of assistance
given to regulatory and enforcement agencies by third parties.
That the Australian National Audit Office when undertaking its next
financial audit of the AGS look closely at the issues outlined by the
Committee and related matters.
The Government has taken steps to bring this recommendation to the attention
of the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO). The Government would welcome
the ANAO looking at any of the issues raised by the Committee's report
when undertaking its next financial audit of the AGS.
That the ACCC monitor the impact of the change in responsibility
for compliance programs and report on this matter in the 1997-98 annual
Agreed in principle.
Though ACCC will continue to provide broad compliance training to businesses
and individuals, in late 1997 it indicated that it will no longer be involved
in compliance programs related to s. 87B undertakings. Parties that are
required to undergo compliance training as part of s. 87B undertakings
given to the ACCC, will now have to rely on compliance training programs
conducted by independent legal service providers. The ACCC will attempt
to monitor the impact of this change in responsibility for s. 87B related
compliance programs and will report on this matter in future Annual Reports.
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