Senate could scuttle Labor’s predatory pricing changes

Barnaby Joyce’s Birdsville amendment to predatory pricing laws could avoid the death sentence depending on the outcome of an Opposition shadow cabinet meeting this morning.

Barnaby Joyce’s Birdsville amendment to predatory pricing laws could avoid the death sentence depending on the outcome of an Opposition shadow cabinet meeting today.

According to reports, the mood within Opposition ranks is to vote down Labor’s package of Trade Practices reforms in the Senate.

Combined with the vote of new Senator Nick Xenaphon, who has previously expressed support for the Birdsville amendment, this will mean Labor will not be able to pass its reforms.

The Birdsville amendment was hailed as a boost to small business protection from predatory pricing when it was introduced last year, but groups including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have since argued the operation of the law is uncertain and backed Labor’s alternative amendments.

Labor’s minority position in the new Senate also looks set to cause delays in the introduction of its new industrial relations laws, which the Government hoped to have passed by the end of 2008.

The laws require the states to refer parts of their jurisdiction to deal with industrial relations to the Commonwealth. But uncertainty about what the minority controlled Senate will do to change the laws has reportedly caused Queensland and NSW to delay giving over their powers until they have a firmer idea of what the final result will look like.

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