Barney over effects test must not derail better competition reforms - Media Release


Joint media release with Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen 

Competition reform has ground to a halt in this country because the Liberal National Coalition is deeply divided over a single recommendation in the Harper Review’s 548 page report.

The debate about inserting a so-called ‘effects test’ into Australia’s competition law has so far completely derailed any discussion of the report’s 55 other substantial recommendations.

Ranging across infrastructure access to intellectual property reform, and from planning and zoning to retail restrictions, the report maps out a comprehensive blueprint for competition reforms that can help spur a new round of economic growth.

When the Keating and Howard Governments adopted the recommendations of the Hilmer Competition Review in the 1990s, this added an estimated 2.5 per cent to GDP over the decade.

Yet the opportunity to deliver reforms that could help achieve another fiscal boost is being squandered because the Liberals and Nationals cannot agree over the flawed proposal for an effects test.

Labor has consistently said we will not support the effects test because it may have a chilling effect on competition and drive up the cost of living for Australian families.

But we are open to supporting dozens of the report’s other recommendations and would be more than willing to work with the Liberals to fast-track their implementation.

One year ago today, Labor said of the draft Harper Review:

“Of the recommendations that relate to the Federal Government responsibilities, we are open to consider the vast majority of them. We are open to recommendations that relate to:

  • improvements in competitive neutrality;
  • a broader review of regulations from all levels of Government that may limit competition;
  • extra-territorial reach of the law;
  • price signalling;
  • ACCC governance;
  • resale price maintenance;
  • and many others.”

One year on, the Government is yet to act on any of these issues.

Labor understands that our economy needs growth to protect the jobs and living standards of all Australians.

The Coalition should put aside their squabbling over the effects test and prioritise growth by urgently responding to the rest of the Harper Competition Review.

The Australian economy shouldn’t become a casualty of the ongoing arm-wrestle between Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce.



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