Effects Test, Politics

Effects test back on the table as Malcolm Turnbull secures new agreement with the Nationals

Eloise Keating /

The federal government will properly consider whether or not to introduce an effects test, after Malcolm Turnbull secured a new coalition agreement with the Nationals Party.

Nationals leader Warren Truss and deputy leader Barnaby Joyce are expected to reveal full details of the deal this afternoon, with Fairfax reporting the deal includes the competition reforms proposed by Small Business Minister Bruce Billson.

Turnbull, who last night won the leadership of the federal Liberal Party from Tony Abbott, has agreed to potentially push through the reforms to Section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act, subject to endorsement by cabinet.

A spokesperson for Warren Truss confirmed to SmartCompany the effects test was part of the renegotiated Coalition agreement.

The agreement will see Turnbull’s new cabinet give “proper consideration” to amending competition law to prevent abuse of market power.

The renegotiated Coalition agreement will be welcome news for the nation’s small business owners, who have joined SmartCompany and the Council of Small Business of Australia in petitioning for the change.

More than 580 people have signed the petition calling for the government not to abandon the small business community.

Speaking to SmartCompany this afternoon, COSBOA executive director Peter Strong welcomed the pending announcement from the Coalition.

“If Turnbull wants to show he is connected to small business, the best thing he could do is pass the effects test as soon as he can,” Strong says.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s negotiated or whatever. It would be a fantastic thing for the country.”

Jos de Bruin, chief executive of Master Grocers, told SmartCompany it is more than a strong rumour that Truss and Joyce have done a deal with Malcolm Turnbull to, among other things, bring the effects test back to the cabinet discussion table.

“This is not big business versus small business,” De Bruin says.

“This is a decision beneficial to all Australians. This is great for entrepreneurship, increased employment and productivity. This creates certainty for people to know that if you’re big or small and if you misuse your market power or keep companies out of a marketplace through anti-competitive behaviours, you’re going to be apprehended.”

De Bruin says big business has been spreading “a lot of mistruths” around the halls of parliament during the past few months.

“But consumers aren’t stupid,” he says.

“The electorate wants fair competition. They don’t want to see the big guys – or anyone, for that matter – behaving in an anti-competitive way. If they do the right thing they’ve got nothing to fear.”

SmartCompany has contacted Bruce Billson for comment.

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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