Competition & Regulation

April 2010

In this edition

Regulating export infrastructure – the challenges ahead

Over much of the last decade it has been widely reported that Australia's export infrastructure is in a state of crisis. The focus of these concerns has been the supply chain serving the multi-billion dollar coal export industry. Lengthy ship queues became a symbol for a lack of planning and investment in rail and port infrastructure.

This issue lost much of its prominence as commodity prices tumbled and the demands on the supply chain eased. But prices are now rebounding and the ships are coming back. The concern then is whether effective steps have been taken to encourage the investment required to avoid a repeat of the conditions that prevailed in the middle of the decade.

Don't bank on it – financial services and banking mergers

The Statement of Issues released recently by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) relating to the proposed acquisition of AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Limited (AXA) by two separate potential bidders, AMP Limited (AMP) and the National Australia Bank Limited (NAB), confirms a recent hardening of attitude for the competition regulator regarding acquisitions in the financial services and banking sector.

The ACCC's Immunity Policy – five years on

In 2005, the ACCC introduced its Immunity Policy, offering immunity from prosecution to the first eligible cartel participant to fulfil the Policy's conditions. Almost five years later, general awareness of, and experience with, the workings of the Policy have been relatively slow to develop. This has been largely due to the secrecy and confidentiality surrounding the process of applying for, and the granting of, immunity.

Beyond consumer contracts

As the new national consumer law framework takes shape, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has gained further powers to enhance its enforcement armoury, with potentially wide implications for business representations in ordinary commercial conduct.