A coalition of SME business groups calling itself ‘The Independent Business Alliance for Competition’ expressed dismay at the Government’s decision to defer competition reforms such as an ‘Effects Test’. This would assist smaller supermarkets and convenience retailers to compete more fairly.

The Alliance has thrown its full support behind proposals from Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson to strengthen section 46 of the Competition Act, which would see an ’Effects Test’ put in place to stop big retail chains from abusing their market power.

The Independent Business Alliance for Competition, which represents two million small retailers employing five million people, is the result of leading small business groups coming together to work towards fair competition across all business sectors.

The Alliance includes The Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA); the Australian Retailers Association (ARA); Fresh Markets Australia; Australian Newsagents Federation (ANF); Australasian Convenience & Petroleum Marketers Association (ACPMA); and Master Grocers Association (MGA).

The Alliance believes an Effects Test is crucial for the future of small business in Australia, as recommended by the Harper Report in September 2014.

ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman, reiterated the calls for reform of the Competition Act. “The ARA supports the introduction of an Effects Test to ensure all Australian businesses have the ability to be competitive and that the landscape remains viable for small and medium business, as well as the major corporations,” he said.

Jos de Bruin, CEO of MGA said: “It is disappointing to see the Federal cabinet overthrow the recommendations of an impartial expert committee because of a spurious scare campaign mounted by the elite of Australian big business.”

“Australia needs to ensure there are safeguards in place to ensure that market power is not abused and small businesses are given equal opportunity to compete,” said CEO of COSBOA, Peter Strong.

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