Small business, independent retailers slam BCA moves to influence competition policy

Industry associations representing independent food retailers and SME’s have continued their attack on big business group the Business Council of Australia (BCA), this time over a confidential briefing it provided to the Federal Government aimed at influencing competition policy such as the introduction of an ‘effects test’.

Paul Nielsen, chairman of small business association COSBOA, said: “We note, as reported in the AFR, that the chairman of the BCA Catherine Livingston provided a confidential eight page briefing letter on 25 August to the Federal Cabinet that spells out the BCA case against an effects test with an attachment containing their views on unintended consequences.

“Whilst we understand the need for secret inter-govermental briefings from departments like Defence on security matters, the BCA and its members are public companies and competition policy effects the whole business community not just the big businesses that make up the BCA.”

Master Grocers Australia said it received a leaked copy of a letter from the BCA to Cabinet Ministers that contains a number of ludicrous assertions which are aimed at killing off any move by the Cabinet to strengthen the misuse of market power laws, as recommended by the Harper Review. “The BCA claims with a straight face that: Major new innovations like the iPhone would be at risk, companies could be hindered from expanding in order to export into China, thus allegedly preventing them from taking advantage of the China Free Trade agreement, and that passengers on airline routes could experience less choice,” MGA said.

“The Cabinet needs to resist the BCA’s bullying and dissembling and show that it is in tune with its broad base of business support as well as consumers. The BCA has the temerity to speak for all business when in fact it speaks only for an elite group of Australia’s biggest businesses,” MGA CEO Jos de Bruin added.

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