The federal government has a new plan to protect startups and small business from dirty tactics

Picture: Trevor Adeline/ABC via Getty Images

The federal government is strengthening Australia’s competition laws to ensure startups, small businesses and new technologies are protected from cartel-like behaviour from bigger players.

Draft legislation released today changes the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to include significant reform to the misuse of market power provision.

The Harper Review of competition policy in 2015 found that Australia’s misuse of market power law is not reliably enforceable and does not effectively target and deter anti-competitive conduct.

This uncertainty and inefficiency creates a barrier to the entry and expansion of new and innovative firms, delays the development of new technologies and hinders productivity growth in the long term.

The government today released draft legislation for comment.

“We are interested in receiving comments or suggestions from interested parties regarding the proposed content of the guidelines outlined in this framework,” says ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) chairman Rod Sims said.

This package of legislative changes aims to simplify the law and better deal with anti-competitive conduct while supporting pro-competitive behaviour.

This includes broadening the definition of competition to include potential imports of goods and services, to fully reflect the range of competitive pressures facing Australian companies.

The changes confine the cartel conduct provisions to conduct affecting competition in Australia and broadens the exceptions for joint ventures.

Consultation on the draft legislation will run for four weeks until September 30.

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