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Clear Merger Will Test Commerce Commission

Clear Merger Will Test Commerce Commission

Friday 16 Nov 2001 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Commerce

The Government's Australianisation of our Commerce Act could discredit the Commerce Commission if it approves the merger of Telstra Saturn with Clear, said ACT's Commerce Spokesman Stephen Franks.

"The Act is now supposed to block mergers which "substantially lessen competition". Any ordinary plain reading of the words would have them applying to this takeover.

"Labour's election rhetoric implied that Minister Swain and his helper David Cunliffe MP would stop precisely this kind of deal.

"They didn't really want that to happen. Last month they rushed through a Bill to validate applying the old New Zealand law to 10 of the first 11 approvals since their law change, instead of new Australian test.

"And in two early decisions under the new law the Commerce Commission has done what ACT predicted, that is persuade itself that the new words don't really mean what they say to lay people, and that the reasoning of the old New Zealand dominance test is still relevant.

"So Mr Swain's political slogans mean the Commission now has to turn verbal cartwheels to avoid applying the new law impractically.

"Meanwhile re-election of John Howard in Australia means the law Mr Swain has just copied will be changed to give Australia decisions more like our previous law.

"The upshot is that our law will look confusingly like Australia's but mean something else.

"It's tough as a despised little brother trying to curry favour by copying big brother when he only tells you afterwards when he has made a big mistake," Stephen Franks said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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