Small Business Minister Margaret Quirk has expressed her dismay at Canberra’s response to calls for greater protection of small business from the predatory conduct of big business.
Ms Quirk said Federal Small Business Minister Fran Bailey was not listening to the genuine concerns of small business about the problem of creeping acquisitions and unconscionable conduct in business transactions.
“Small business is concerned with creeping acquisitions where, over time, bigger companies buy out smaller ones, and overwhelmingly dominate the market,” she said.
“Independent small businesses can’t compete and it hits consumers in the hip pocket.
“What small business has been arguing for is changes to the Trade Practices Act to require the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to consider the cumulative effect of mergers and acquisitions over a minimum of four years.
“Decisions in the High Court recently have set a very high threshold test for proving that a business takeover or pricing policy is anti-competitive.
“I am particularly concerned about creeping acquisitions which have an anti-competitive impact on petrol, grocery and liquor retails.
“However the shared concerns of all State and Territory Governments were ignored out of hand and the Commonwealth seemed to have taken the attitude that they know best.
“This is a long standing issue for the Small Business Development Corporation in Western Australia. There have been reports commissioned and submitted, but the Federal Government has not listened to our concerns.”
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