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Competition report: Harper review draft proposes policy overhaul

A new federal government-commissioned report calls for a shake-up in Australia’s competition policy, two decades after Fred Hilmer’s landmark report.

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson took delivery of the Harper Competition Review draft report today, from a panel chaired by Deloitte economist Professor Ian Harper.

The report says competition policy requires “reinvigoration”, with laws changed to simplify provisions and streamline approval processes, while highlighting a gap in regulatory structures.

Harper finds seven priority reform areas in competition policy, proposing a review of regulations restricting competition and asking whether competition principles should apply to all activities of government.

The report calls for a new national competition reform body to replace the National Competition Council, a new governance structure for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and separate access and pricing regulators.

Billson says the review, the first since Hilmer’s 1993 National Competition Policy report, “focuses on improving outcomes for Australians, by making markets work in the long-term interests of consumers”:

“It will help identify ways to build the economy and promote investment, growth, job creation and durable benefits to consumers.”

The draft is open for feedback until November 17, with public forums held around Australia. A final report will be delivered in March.

The review panel included former Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry head Peter Anderson, CEO of think tank the Regional Australia Institute Su McCluskey and Queen’s Counsel Michael O’Bryan.

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The Mandarin

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