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‘Effects test’ amendments a result of Government-farm sector consultation

The National Farmers’ Federation says the Federal Government has listened to the needs of the farm sector in the putting forward amendments to its ‘effects test’ legislation in Parliament.

The amendments to the Misuse of Market Power Bill seeks to protect small businesses from the impact of anti-competitive conduct by large, counterparty businesses.

National Farmers Federation President Fiona Simson said farms were overwhelmingly small businesses and the changes were welcomed by the agricultural sector.

“Farmers are a driving force behind Australia’s economic and social prosperity.

“We see the introduction of an effective misuse of market power provision as a great leap forward for Australian competition law.”

Ms Simson said the amendments were a positive outcome of the Federal Government’s extensive consultation process surrounding the Bill.

“The Government has consulted very carefully on these changes, since the beginning of the Harper Review process in 2014.

The latest changes were made in response to practical concerns raised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“Through the amendments, the Government seeks to forge significant inroads towards leveling the playing field between large and small businesses.”

Ms Simson said the changes addressed concerns by the ACCC that the previous version of the Bill may introduce new legal concepts and tie up the new provision in knots.

“This could potentially provide an unintended legal refuge for those engaging in nefarious behaviour and render the changes ineffective.”

“The changes align the Bill with the rest of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and apply a test of ‘substantially lessening competition’—a concept that is well established in case law,” Ms Simson said.

“Overall the Government should be commended for listening carefully to stakeholders and methodically delivering robust and effective protections for small businesses—including Australian farmers,” Ms Simson said.

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