18 October 2017
Media Release - #2017102, 2017

Strengthened competition law – Harper reforms passed

The Turnbull Government has today legislated a second tranche of major amendments to Australia’s competition law that will better protect small businesses and provide more choice for consumers.

These changes complement reforms to strengthen the prohibition against the misuse of market power (section 46), which passed the Parliament in August.

With the passage of this legislation, both sets of amendments will be able to come into effect in the coming weeks. These reforms will strengthen Australia’s competition laws, ensure they are fit for purpose and ultimately benefit consumers, businesses and the economy.

Key amendments include:

  • replacing the never-used and unworkable price signalling provisions with a general prohibition on concerted practices that substantially lessen competition;
  • abolishing the formal merger clearance process and providing for merger authorisation applications to be heard first by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and reviewed by the Australian Competition Tribunal;
  • introducing class exemptions for conduct that the ACCC determines does not raise competition concerns; and
  • amending the National Access Regime to better target the lack of competition in markets for infrastructure services where third party access is required.

These reforms are a key part of the Turnbull Government’s response to the Harper Competition Policy Review to increase choice and deliver better services and outcomes for Australian consumers.