Monday, 24 June 2013
Competition and Consumer Amendment (Strengthening Rules About Misuse of Market Power) Bill 2013; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
I am conscious that I have all of 90 seconds so I will do my best to repeat what was said last week. I thank the seconder for supporting debate on this motion to progress and, hopefully, the two major parties can support the substance of these changes. Fundamentally, they are to provide the powers to the ACCC that the consumers, in my view, already think they have to look at the total effect of decisions of major retailers on supply chains and other markets.
Under current legislation, the ACCC can only look at negotiations between large supermarkets and large processors and there is equity in the bargaining power between those two. Sure, the consumer wins in the long term but without knowing the full supply chain there is a question mark around the long-term impacts of the public benefit on consumers.
The other changes are about transparency, firstly, to provide power to the ACCC to seek documents from their source, not from the end parties. The small farmers who rightly or wrongly tell stories of fear do not want to produce documents in case they are frozen out of the 80 per cent of the market and the very fact that section 46—abuse of market power—is not used by the courts as much as it should be is evidence that there is concern about abuse of market power by the very act of silence within the market. The second point is to try and have a positive influence on behaviour at the outset by creation of the supply chain impact statement. If retailers know they may be compelled to make public statements about what they thought their decision would do to a supply chain, they may place more weight on this as a factor in decision making and give more direction and education in the community if there are no problems over those supply chains.