Nats ensure level playing field for small business - NSW Nationals

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Nats stand by small business

The Nationals have proved once again they are the champions for small business. This time changing the Competition and Consumer Act to ensure that larger companies can no longer use their weight or market share to harm smaller competitors.

Labor failed the 3.2 million small businesses around the country by opposing the changes and siding instead with big businesses who use their size and union-like tactics to bully others out of the market place. 

The Section 46 reform of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 has strengthened the operation of the provision commonly referred to as the misuse of market power. In its previous incarnation, the section was difficult to enforce and failed to act as a deterrent for big business from squashing competitors with reduced prices and unfair tactics.

The amendment now protects those engaging in a fair competition but will prevent large businesses acting in ways that substantially lessens rivalry within the market place.  

Examples of negative conduct include large players drastically reducing prices on goods with the intention of driving other businesses to the wall, thereby increasing their market share. Previously, this type of action was hard to prosecute and allowed larger businesses to jump through a legislative loophole.

The changes were championed by Senator John ‘Wacka’ Williams who has long lead reviews into big business, banking practices and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, and who worked with the cross bench to pass the much-needed reforms.

“It is tough enough for small businesses with changing shopping trends and the continued popularity of online shopping, without being buried by the larger players,” he said.

Minister for Small Business and Member for Riverina Michael McCormack also welcomed the amendments which have come to the forefront after years of stakeholder engagement and after the publication of the Harper Review.

“From farmers to small supermarkets, from consumers to suppliers, many Australians tell me how these changes will stop firms with substantial market power from engaging in conduct which reduces competition,” Michael said.

“This is good news for small businesses who want to compete and good news for consumers who want competition in the market.”

The altered section now includes the word “effect” so it will be easier to prove if a corporation with substantial market power engages in conduct that has the purpose, effect, or likely effect of substantially lessening competition.

The implementation of these changes is down to the hard work of Nationals like Wacka and Michael in collaboration with the Commonwealth Government and the cross bench – proving the Nationals can work rationally with the diverse House to get the best outcome for the small businesses which hold up our regional communities.

Labor once again refused to be involved in the process when invited by Michael and voted to keep the section in its previously unworkable state, favouring unscrupulous practices by unions over hard working Mum and Dad business.

“I invited Labor to work with the Government in backing Small Business, to level the playing field so more can compete,” Michael said.

“When we cut small business taxes, Labor voted against it, when we redefined “small business” so more small businesses pay less tax to help them create more jobs, Labor voted against it.”

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