House of Representatives Committees

Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public Administration

Inquiry into aspects of the National Competition Policy Reform Package

Media release, 17 November 1997

LAUNCH OF PUBLICATION ON COMPETITION POLICY AND THE PROFESSIONS

Competition policy is a very pervasive policy that impacts on the lives of all Australians, including the professions.

Accordingly several major professional associations have joined forces to prepare a new publication on competition policy and the professions. The publication was launched this afternoon by David Hawker MP, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Institutions and Public Administration.

In speaking at the launch today Mr Hawker stressed the public interest elements of competition policy reform as they relate to the reviews of legislation of the major professions.

He said 'The 'public interest test' is a critical element of competition policy. It is used to determine whether community welfare is better served by implementing competition reforms or not.'

In addressing this issue he picked up on the findings of his own Committee's work (tabled in June this year) on selected aspects of competition reform, including the application of the 'public interest test', which are included as an appendix to the new publication.

Mr Hawker said 'With over 2000 pieces of legislation, including those related to the major professions, to be reviewed for anti-competitive restrictions before the year 2000, it is crucial that governments and the professions get this aspect of competition reform right.'

'The aim of competition reform is to deliver benefits to consumers and businesses. We don't want inappropriate reforms relating to the professions introduced. The potential dangers in such a situation already have been demonstrated by some reviews of legislation relating to veterinarians and architects.'

Mr Hawker praised the work of the Australian Council of Professions, the Institution of Engineers, the Australian Veterinary Association, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the Australian Physiotherapy Association for preparing their publication. 'I know it will be an important document in raising awareness amongst the professions and assist in guiding the process as they come to grips with relevant aspects of the Competition Policy Reform Act' he said.

'Given the scope of the competition reforms, their potential to substantially impact on the lives of all Australians, and the relative newness of the policy, it is critical that there is adequate public education and consultation about the reforms, and their progress. This new publication is a critical part of progressing the public debate' concluded Mr Hawker.

Ends
17 November 1997
Further information:
David Hawker MP (Chairman) 06- 277 4100
Bev Forbes (Inquiry Secretary) 06 - 277 4587

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