Small business advocates are concerned the competition law reform championed by former small business minister Bruce Billson will be shelved by Billson’s successor Kelly O’Dwyer.
SmartCompany understands from several sources that O’Dwyer and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull do not personally support an effects test.
O’Dwyer was unable to respond to SmartCompany’s request for comment by deadline but Professor Bob Baxt, emeritus partner at O’Dwyer’s former law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and former chairman of the Trade Practices Commission, says he believes O’Dwyer does not support the effects test.
“There is a clear body within the cabinet including Kelly O’Dwyer and Malcom Turnbull that will not be comfortable with this proposed change,” Baxt says.
Baxt says Billson was a strong advocate for the effects test and now he has been axed by Turnbull the test is unlikely to proceed.
“The fact that Bruce Billson is no longer in the cabinet means that if the change occurs it will not be what the Harper panel has recommended.”
But Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, says whatever O’Dwyer’s personal view, as small business minister she should support the effects test.
“For the small business minister not to support the effects test would be like a Collingwood supporter barracking for Carlton,” he says.
Strong says despite the change in prime minister and the cabinet COSBOA’s position is unchanged.
“We are still pushing for competition law reform and an effects test,” he says.
SmartCompany’s survey of small businesses last week found continued support for an effects test under the new-look government.
Of those surveyed 40% want to see the government’s promised competition law reform and effects test implemented.
Despite the personal views of Turnbull and O’Dwyer there is still hope for an effects test as the Prime Minister reportedly agreed to properly consider the introduction of the reform as part of his new coalition agreement with the Nationals Party.
SmartCompany is continuing its campaign with COSBOA calling on the government to implement the effects test.
Over 600 people have signed our petition for the effects test and SmartCompany will present the petition to O’Dwyer.
Tell the government not to abandon small business. Sign SmartCompany and COSBOA’s petition calling on the government to implement the effects test.