Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently announced that his cabinet has endorsed plans to fix competition policy in Australia by amending the Competition and Consumer Act's misuse of market power provision.
That is, a small business complainant (or the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, in their stead) will only have to show in court that a big business's activities have the likely effect of decreasing competition. Currently, they need to establish that the bigger player actually intended to damage them, prevent them from entering a market, or deter them from competing - an unrealistically high bar.All small and family businesses should feel pleased about this development, because it means the government is listening to us and noticing that dirt cheap prices are not always best for consumers in the long term.
Corporations like Coles and Woolworths, for example, will have to think twice about dropping prices to levels that the corner store, butcher or independent fruit shop can't match for extended periods of time. In turn, food manufacturers and growers should see more favourable prices for their products as food price wars become a thing of the past.
The change doesn't just affect retail businesses. Small manufacturers, for example, will be better able to stop large companies from refusing them supply for anti-competitive reasons. It will also be harder for suppliers in a position of dominance to prohibit their small business customers from dealing with rival suppliers.It may not be your company which launches legal action under the new anti-competition provisions, but all small businesses will benefit once the case law in this area develops and the top end of town understands that they can't bully small businesses into submission.
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