Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public
Press release, 20 November 1997
ACCC AGAIN UNDER CLOSE SCRUTINY BY PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
The activities of Australia's major competition watchdog, the Australian
Competition and Consumer Commission, will be examined again this week
by the House of Representatives Financial Institutions and Public Administration
Committee at a public hearing in Canberra on Thursday 20 November 1997.
According to the Committee Chairman, Mr David Hawker MP, "there is increasing
business and community concern about the way in which the ACCC is undertaking
its role, the legislative basis for its actions, and whether the Commission
is really achieving the objectives it was designed to achieve."
"Almost no day goes by without some concern being raised in the media
about the decisions or operations of the ACCC."
"While big business generally supports the concept of the Trade Practices
Act and the national competition policy agenda, they continue to be critical
of the manner in which the ACCC conducts itself in relation to mergers
and acquisitions. Santos Ltd has set out its concerns in a submission
to the Committee. That document echos the concerns of many other businesses
and commentators in the field."
"Issues raised relate to the information and research basis of the ACCC's
work, the consistency of the ACCC's decisions, the openness of the ACCC
regarding its failures as well as its successes, and the impact of the
ACCC's decisions on the commercial operations of companies." The Committee
shares many of those concerns and we will also be seeking information
on the Foxtel and Australis Media case. The Commission may have good reasons
for its decisions and the Committee will be looking forward to hearing
them if that is the case."
"As well the Committee will address important issues it raised with
the ACCC at the last hearing in April and which the Commission agreed
to follow-up. These matters include: greater transparency in the s 87B
undertakings and other processes, the expected benefits of competition
reforms in rural Australia and improvements in petrol pricing. The Commission's
progress in implementing the Wallis reforms will also be canvassed."
"Given the Commission's significant powers which directly impact on
the commercial operations of business in almost every market, and its
role in consumer protection matters, the ACCC must be transparent and
accountable, and be seen to be transparent and accountable, for all its
"One very public way in which that transparency is being achieved is
through the Commission's regular appearance before our Committee. We are
looking forward to a very frank and constructive exchange with Prof Fels"
Mr Hawker concluded.
Ends // 18 November 1997
David Hawker MP (Chairman) (02) 6277 4100
Bev Forbes (Inquiry Secretary) (02) 6277 4587
Public Hearing Program
Thursday 20 November 1997, 10.30am - 1.00pm
House of Representatives Committee Room 2R2
10.30am Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Professor Alan Fels, Chairman
Ms Rhonda Smith, Commissioner
Mr Hank Spier, General Manager
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