Monday, April 15, 2024

Albanese set for clash with big business over competition reform

Business Council of Australia chief executive Bran Black.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Bran Black.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Research released on Thursday by the e61 Institute showed restrictions on people to take new jobs, such as non-compete clauses in work contracts, cost Australians up to $7500 a year in lower wages.

Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke said he had only become aware of the issue around non-compete clauses in recent months.

He said it appeared a troubling development.

“On all the evidence I have seen so far, and I have only seen the beginnings of it, I am concerned about this. I don’t want people to be in a situation where your existing employer prevents you from getting the next job,” Burke told ABC TV.

The ACCC, in its submission to the competition review, argued current laws did not require affected firms to notify the commission of their merger plans.

The commission wants new powers that would require companies to notify it of proposed mergers. It estimates about 90 per cent of applications would be waved through as they would not pose a risk to competition.

But the Business Council of Australia, in its submission, said the government should not be making any major change to the nation’s merger laws.

Council chief executive Bran Black said mergers should not be viewed as a bad thing, and argued that while competition between local firms was important, it was equally vital Australia remained a competitive destination for international investment.

“Australia is in the grip of an investment drought and our economy is under significant pressure, and so the government must carefully weigh any proposed changes to merger laws with the likely impact on business, Australian jobs and our ability to compete,” he said.

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“Australia’s current laws have served the community well, and are well-understood, low cost, flexible and appropriate given the vast majority of mergers do not raise competition issues.”

Black said the council was not opposed to a mandatory notification system for certain mergers, but there had to be proper consultation with the business sector about their operation and key features.

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