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Commerce Act Gets Consumer Focus

1 May, 2000
COMMERCE ACT GETS CONSUMER FOCUS

Consumers are to be given more importance in the Commerce Act.

The Government is going to amend the Act to include an overriding purpose statement that clarifies the fact that increased consumer welfare is the long-term goal of competition.

Acting Minister of Commerce Trevor Mallard says the move makes it clear to the Commerce Commission and the courts that competition is not an end in itself.

"It is about promoting the competitive process for the long term benefits of consumers," he said.

The Government will also amend section 29 of the Act dealing with primary collective boycotts.

"This section has been the focus of criticism by commentators and the courts for poorly defining anti-competitive boycotts. We propose a minor technical amendment to extend the application of the section.

"We would like it to apply to collective boycotts where the boycott victim is competing with a subsidiary or related company of one of the parties staging the boycott.

"Currently a parent company may enter into anti-competitive boycott arrangements to protect a subsidiary company - this was a drafting oversight and the change will reflect the original intent of Parliament.”

"The Minister of Commerce will write to the Chair of the Commerce Select Committee inviting the Committee to consider and report on other ways to protect pro-competitive arrangements," he said.

These changes follow an announcement on 5 April about moves to strengthen the Commerce Act. A supplementary order paper will go to the Commerce Select Committee before the middle of this year. The public will be able to make submissions.

ENDS

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