Master Grocers calls for supermarket code, backs ACCC competition approach

Masters Grocers Australia (MGA) and Liquor Retailers Australia (LRA) has made a submission to the Competition Policy Review Final Report in late May and called for a separate Supermarket and Liquor Retailer Industry Code.

The independent retailer association said that the Draft Competition Policy Review Report released 22nd September 2014 does suggest that, “codes of conduct can play an important role under the Competition Act”.

MGA/LRA said that to protect competition and the consumer, and to assist competition regulator the ACCC, it is important to have a mechanism to protect against anti-competitive behaviour that can be dealt with and monitored through an enforceable industry code.

MGA/LRA CEO Jos De Bruin said that the MGA/LRA strongly supports and welcomes the proposal to introduce and ‘effects test’ to Section 46 of the Competition Act and the removal of the words ‘take advantage’ that would promote greater clarity in the interpretation of Section 46 of the Competition Act.

Mr De Bruin said that while many people in big business said that the ‘effects test’ changes would stifle competition and development, S46 doesn’t affect competitors.

“Our members are protected if the competition process is protected and the effects test will address a misuse of market power and anti-competitive behaviour,” he said.

“We called for a supermarket code that’s different to the Grocery Code of Conduct, which is about suppliers and retailers. A supermarket and liquor code would address predatory pricing conduct.”

Mr De Bruin mentioned in his submission, that Coles and Woolworths’ disclosure of their terms and conditions of trade with their suppliers would provide independent supermarkets and liquor stores with a mechanism for assessing like terms of trade with suppliers.

In late May, Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC, said that it sees much merit in the recommendation of the Harper Review to reframe section 46 towards the purpose or effect of substantially lessening competition that would protect the competitive process rather than individual firms.

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