COSBOA has always held the view that competition policy has failed the small business community. See our response HERE
Below is our Executive Summary and suggested solutions to this problem.
This submission should be read in conjunction with other submissions particularly from the Australian Newsagents Federation, viagra hospital the Master Grocers Association, treatment the WA Independent Grocery Association; the Retail Guild of Australia, among others representatives of small business people.
This submission focuses on the current impact of market domination by a few businesses, the need for consideration of urban planning in competition policy and the impact on culture, choice, innovation and productivity of the current situation. We also focus on the role of the ACCC and the future of competition and the need to maintain transparency and fairness in the internet.
We have worked on solutions. We have not just provided our suggestions on solutions to this review. Over the last few years we have had meetings with senior representatives from the largest businesses and representatives from organisations such as the Australian National Retailers Association, the Business Council of Australia and others. We believe that dialogue is a key way to recognise and agree on issues, or when disagreement occurs at least understand all the arguments.
In the end as a small number of large businesses come to dominate markets, communications and access to information they need to accept responsibility for their actions or have that responsibility forced upon them. Otherwise the divestiture of the main offenders is the only option.
As mentioned previously various other submissions list ways to free up competition and ensure that consumers have real choice and prices are based on competition and consumer needs not domination by a few. Below is a summary of what we see as solutions and good policies for improving competition in Australia.
Create sanctions for breaches that will ensure that behaviour is legal and correct. Sanctions should be a substantial fine and also enough damages paid to any small business who is the victim of the behaviour so that they can leave the market place and establish a new income source in another sector or through employment. The reality is that the dominance of some businesses is such that anyone who complains will not be able to work with the business or in that sector at any future stage. The person/family in that business must be compensated enough that they can maintain their health and survive.
Add divestiture to Section 46 of the CCA as a penalty.
Better define unconscionable conduct so that it can be enforced.
Creation of no cost orders to enable parties to pursue claims in Court without the ACCC.
Include assessment of impact of urban planning on local and national competition. The definition of the market to include the “National Market”, particularly for assessment of creeping acquisitions.
Remove the capacity for non-local developers to appeal against decisions by councils.
Ensure the regulator, the ACCC, has the resources to take legal actions against the biggest companies and properly administer the CCA.
Expand the merger prohibitions for corporations which already have significant market share.
There should be mandatory notification of all acquisitions by corporations with substantial market power.
Compulsorily obtain information from those with substantial market power to refute or justify claims made by parties without access to that information.
Develop an Effects Test to limit creeping acquisitions and price discrimination.
The boards of Woolworths and Coles must consider voluntary divestiture for the health of our economy.
We should establish an annual report on the fairness and transparency of the internet.
Collect GST on goods purchased from within Australia, whether the goods are purchased from local businesses or those based in other countries.