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ACCAN recently submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) consultation on the Competition Notice Guidelines. ACCAN’s submission forms part of ACCAN’s ongoing work to support competition in the telecommunications industry in order to promote better outcomes for consumers and small businesses. 

The Competition and Consumer Act (Cth) provides for an industry-specific regulatory framework for telecommunications. This gives the ACCC power to issue a competition notice, which is a formal ‘stop’ notice to a provider who is suspected of acting anti-competitively. If a provider does not comply with a notice they face substantial fines - $10m, plus $1m per day for non-compliance.

 ACCAN supports competition notices as they may be issued quickly where consumers face immediate harm from anti-competitive conduct and are an effective deterrent against it.

When finalized, the Guidelines will inform the ACCC’s assessment of whether to issue a competition notice to a service provider for anti-competitive conduct. ACCAN considers that further refinement of the Guidelines is appropriate in order to ensure that they promote the best interests of consumers and discourage anti-competitive conduct to the detriment of consumers.

We made the following key points in our submission:

  • Anti-competitive conduct has material negative impacts on consumers through higher prices and poorer service outcomes;

  • There is a continued role for competition notices, given the advantages of notices over other enforcement tools available to the ACCC;

  • That the Guidelines be revised to reflect a risk-based approach, with notices being issued where the risk of loss to consumers outweighs the costs of intervention;

  • The ACCC’s enforcement efforts should be targeted to ensure that the telecommunications industry has incentives to comply with the law;

  • That there is an ongoing role for public enforcement, given the significant barriers that consumers and small businesses face in exercising their rights.

 

Download: docxTelecommunications Competition Notice Guidelines ACCAN submission75.97 KB

Download: pdfTelecommunications Competition Notice Guidelines_ACCAN submission510.21 KB