Government Response to Harper Competition Policy Review
24 November 2015
Treasurer Scott Morrison has today released the Turnbull Government’s response to the Harper Competition Policy Review, a full root and branch review of national competition policy. In so doing, the Treasurer announced that the Government will be supporting 39 of the 56 recommendations contained within the report in full or in principle, and a further 5 recommendations in part. The Government will continue to examine the remaining 12 recommendations.
The final report of the Review, led by Professor Ian Harper, was released by former Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson, on 31 March this year. The Government then undertook extensive consultation with industry and stakeholders on the report’s recommendations however it did not finalise its response before the change of leadership to Malcolm Turnbull
In today’s response, the Government has said it will encourage the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to commit to a new set of competition principles and reform agenda; work with the states and territories to promote investment in roads and other infrastructure, as well as other productivity-enhancing regulatory reform; and commission a Productivity Commission review to examine how the recommendations can be applied in the human services sector.
In its response, the Government has announced it:
- Supports the long-term introduction of cost-reflective road pricing systems reliant on new technologies (R* 3)
- Recognises the need to remove unnecessary planning red tape and the benefits of a community net-benefits test (R9)
- Encourages state and territory governments to reconsider remaining restrictions on retail trading hours (R12)
- Supports the removal of parallel import restrictions on books (Recommendation 13)
- Will establish an independent public review of pharmacy remuneration and regulation, including location rules, to report by March 2017 (R14)
- Will consult with the states and territories on extending the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) to government activities in trade and commerce (R24)
- Will develop exposure draft legislation to amend the definition of ‘market’ in the CCA to include imported goods and services (R25)
- Supports the simplification of cartel conduct prohibitions to allow for greater legitimate joint venture activity (R27)
- Will develop exposure draft legislation to repeal the price signalling provisions of the CCA (R 29)
- Supports the development of exposure draft legislation to tighten the test for third-line forcing (R32)
- Supports simplifying the authorisation and notification provisions of Part VII of the CCA (R38)
- Partially supports Recommendation 42 relating to the National Access Regime (third party access), with changes to declaration criteria based on both the Harper Review recommendations and those of the recent Productivity Commission review.
- Supports the need to establish a body to oversee competition reform (R43)
In Recommendation 30, the Government has acknowledged the strong views surrounding potential changes to the operation of the misuse of market power provision (section 46) in the CCA. The Treasurer has said the Government remains open to this recommendation and will shortly issue a final discussion paper, with comments due by 12 February, before the release of a Cabinet response in March 2016.
The Government recognises that the review’s recommendations span all levels of government and that it will need to work cooperatively with the states and territories to secure a strong reform agenda. Significantly, the Government will consider making incentive payments to state/territory governments that implement reforms that lead to improved productivity and economic growth.