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Another step taken towards single economic market

29 July 2004

Another step taken towards single economic market

The Australian and New Zealand governments have taken another step towards achieving the long term goal of a single economic market in the two countries, this time with a focus on competition and consumer protection law.

Australian Treasurer Peter Costello and New Zealand Commerce Minster Margaret Wilson today announced details of a Productivity Commission research study examining the potential for greater cooperation, coordination and integration of the general competition and consumer protection regimes in Australia and New Zealand.

The research study will look at the core restrictive trade practices and consumer protection provisions of Australia's Trade Practices Act 1974, New Zealand's Commerce Act 1986 and Fair Trading Act 1986, and the associated institutions on both sides of the Tasman. It does not include industry-specific regimes such as telecommunications or electricity.

"This is a forward looking research study to inform both governments on possible future arrangements to better align our respective legislation and practices to remove barriers to trans-Tasman business. All options are on the table, including having common laws and a single trans-Tasman enforcement agency," Peter Costello and Margaret Wilson said in a joint statement today.

The Productivity Commission has been asked to consult widely with interested parties on both sides of the Tasman and to report to both Governments within six months.

Peter Costello and Margaret Wilson said the outcomes of the study will not bind either government to a policy approach.

"Any subsequent changes to policy following the study will require a separate process in each country, which would include a further round of consultation with interested parties in each country." A copy of the terms of reference is attached.

For more information about the study or lodging submissions, see the Productivity Commission’s website at www.pc.gov.au

ENDS

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