Among other things, the review will consider a tightening of the existing merger clearance regime, as proposed by the ACCC.
The Australian government has announced a review of its competition policy settings to boost productivity, wages and consumer choice, and to address the challenges posed by new technologies and the net zero transformation.
The review will be conducted by a Competition Taskforce set up in Treasury over a period of two years, supported by an expert panel with members from academia and industry including Grattan Institute CEO Danielle Wood and former ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) chair Rod Sims.
The review will examine competition laws, policies and institutions, with a focus on reforms that would enhance productivity, lower cost of living and increase wages. It will seek to provide continuous advice rather than a formal report, and involve targeted public consultation.
Some of the issues that the review will cover:
- Merger reforms and other competition law issues, as proposed by the ACCC, which is seeking a stricter merger clearance regime
- Options for coordinated reform with states and territories, to be progressed through the Council on Federal Financial Relations
- Non-compete and related clauses that restrict workers from shifting to a better-paying job
- Competition issues raised by new technologies, the net zero transformation and growth in the care economy
The review is motivated by the slowdown of productivity growth over the past decade, partly attributed to reduced competition, increased market concentration and markups, and a reduction of dynamism in many sectors of the economy.
The Intergenerational Report, also released this week, highlights the critical role of competition for revitalising productivity growth. The importance of competition for strong labour market outcomes will be further explored in a forthcoming white paper on employment.
The review builds on the government’s ongoing efforts to boost competition, including through its reforms of the payments system and Australia’s financial market infrastructure.