This is the first comprehensive review of Australia’s competition laws and policy in over 20 years. The National Competition Policy Review (The Hilmer Review) of 1993 underpinned the development of the National Competition Policy – a co-operative initiative of the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments that the Productivity Commission found contributed to a surge in productivity, directly reduced some prices and stimulated business innovation.
The subsequent Review of the Competition Provisions of the Trade Practices Act (The Dawson Review) of 2003 examined the operation of the competition laws and resulted in some strengthening of the provisions.
There has been considerable change in the Australian economy since the Hilmer Report of the early 1990s and the boost in productivity that underpinned the growth in living standards over the past two decades is waning. The Competition Policy Review will examine the broader competition framework to ensure that it continues to play a role as a significant driver of productivity improvements and to ensure that the current laws are operating as intended and are effective for all businesses, big and small.
MESSAGE FROM THE PANEL
This is our Final Report reviewing Australia’s competition policy, laws and institutions.
The Panel undertook a stocktake of the competition policy framework across the Australian economy. Although reforms introduced following the Hilmer Review led to significant improvements in economic growth and wellbeing, the Panel believes that renewed policy effort is required to support growth and wellbeing now and into the future. To this end, we have reviewed Australia’s competition policy, laws and institutions to assess their fitness for purpose.
Taken together, our recommendations comprise an agenda of reinvigorated microeconomic reform that will require sustained effort from all jurisdictions. We believe this commitment is necessary if Australia is to boost productivity, secure fiscal sustainability and position our economy to meet the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing world.
Given the forces for change already bearing on the Australian economy, delaying policy action will make reform more difficult and more sharply felt. An early response will make the reform effort more manageable over time, allowing Australians to enjoy higher living standards sooner rather than later.
The recommendations and views expressed in this Final Report draw upon the expertise and experience of each member of the Panel. Importantly, we have also had the benefit of hearing from a wide cross-section of the Australian community and from participants in all sectors of the economy.